June 28, 2016

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County could get big refunds from state insurance fund

Staff and wire reports

COLUMBUS — Medina County’s cities, villages, townships and public schools could see a windfall of more than $1 million from the state insurance fund for injured workers under a proposal by Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich’s office on Monday released a county-by-county breakdown of nearly $113 million in rebates that would be distributed to local governments and public schools across the state.

The money is in addition to nearly $1 billion that would go to about 210,000 businesses should the board of directors at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation approve the plan.

Money for the one-time rebate stems from higher-than-expected earnings from investments by the agency, which provides workers’ compensation insurance for Ohio employers and covers about two-thirds of the state’s workforce. The agency’s net assets have grown to $8.3 billion.

Checks would range from $5 to more than $3 million.

The board is scheduled to meet May 30 to consider Kasich’s proposal, which was made earlier this month.

Not all local governments or schools would get a rebate, because some employers are self-insured and don’t pay into the bureau’s system. But nearly 3,800 local governments and schools would see checks, the Kasich administration says.

Schools would receive about $42.5 million in total — the largest slice of the $112.8 million being returned to public employers. Cities would get $37 million, while counties would see $16.5 million. Townships could expect $7.6 million.

Kasich’s plan also calls for increasing the amount of money for safety grants to $15 million from $5 million. The bureau’s grant program provides matching funds to employers who purchase equipment to reduce injuries or illnesses on the job.

In addition, the bureau is asking the Legislature to approve an overhaul of how it bills its employers. And the agency says the changes would result in rate cuts of 2 percent for private employers and 4 percent for public employers.

Employers currently pay their workers’ compensation premium for the previous six months of coverage. The agency wants to move to “prospective” billing, so it can collect employer premiums for an upcoming policy period.

The bureau says it would ask its board for a $900 million credit for employers to help with the transition to the new billing system.

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