Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — Wednesday, March 24, 2004


ALBANY—New York State's workers' compensation system needs fundamental reforms that will rein in the state's above-average cost without undermining essential benefits, The Business Council told the state Legislature today.

"New York helped reduce its costs by enacting a first round of essential reforms in 1996. It is time to get back to work on the next round of changes as called for by the Governor in his major announcement yesterday at our Small Business Day," Daniel B. Walsh, president of The Business Council, said at a hearing of the Senate Labor Committee.

New York has some "major" problems with its workers' compensation system, Walsh told the committee. "By every measure we have seen, New York's costs of workers compensation are above the national average-and by some measures, our costs are among the very highest in the nation.”

The high costs of workers' compensation insurance are a heavy burden for businesses to carry, and often encourage businesses to relocate out of state, he said.

"We know many of the reasons our costs are so high and they can be fixed," Walsh said. "New York has not enacted fundamental reforms that other states already have in place - reforms that rein in costs without undermining essential benefits."

Walsh asked the committee to consider several key reforms, including:

The Council's testimony also reminded the committee of the fiscal dangers associated with some workers' compensation proposals.

"The bill introduced by Senator Velella and Assemblymember John would increase the burden on employers without addressing any of the underlying factors driving higher costs," Walsh said. "In fact, it would make New York's cost burden worse by 25 percent or more."

"Thank you for initiating an important process to determine whether 2004 can see the enactment of badly-needed workers' compensation reform that can provide greater relief to the state's business community and greater security for people who suffer injuries in the workplace," Walsh said.

For the full testimony, visit www.bcnys.org/inside/wc/032404wctest.pdf.