News Intelligence Analysis
This story is from Politics at sacbee.com.
Workers' comp may go on ballot
A business-backed plan includes many of the governor's proposals.
By Dale Kasler -- Bee Staff Writer - (Published January 3, 2004)
In a move that could put heat on the Legislature to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system, a business group with ties to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a ballot initiative that would mandate many of Schwarzenegger's proposals for cutting workers' comp costs.
If it qualifies for the November ballot and is approved by voters, the initiative would cut workers' comp costs by up to $10 billion a year, according to its sponsor, the Small Business Action Committee. The group says the plan is similar to Schwarzenegger's proposal, which could meet stiff resistance in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
"If the Legislature doesn't act, I will make this initiative available to the California voter," said Chris George, the group's chairman.
Schwarzenegger hasn't been shy about appealing directly to voters for support -and has suggested he might seek a ballot initiative if lawmakers don't approve major changes to the workers' comp system. But his spokesman Vince Sollitto said the governor is putting his energy into getting the Legislature to go along with his proposal.
George, president of a financial services company based in San Ramon, said his ballot initiative is being pursued independent of Schwarzenegger.
The small business group sponsored rallies Schwarzenegger held in December to publicize his budget plan. It is affiliated with the 38,000-member California Small Business Association.
Schwarzenegger's workers' comp proposal could face trouble in the Legislature because it strikes at core Democratic constituencies. Among other things, it would standardize the system for rating the severity of an injury and determining the workers' disability payments -- a move that labor officials say would tend to minimize payments and deprive workers of their rights.
The Bee's Dale Kasler can be reached at (916) 321-1066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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