From Illinois Business Journal news services
SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Jay Hoffman today issued a blistering attack on the governor for a director’s failure to show up at a hearing on worker’s compensation, calling it part of the administration’s pattern in recent weeks.
Hoffman, D-Swansea, said he called a Wednesday hearing on reforms to Illinois’ worker’s compensation system and expected to hear from an official in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration about the status of the system – an issue Rauner has stated is a priority. Instead, he said in a statement, “the public got the cold shoulder from Rauner, who again rejected transparency and an airing of issues the governor himself considers important.”
“The ongoing secrecy from the governor and his administration has got to stop. It’s unfair to the taxpayers and constituents we serve who deserve a public discussion on issues that affect so many families,” Hoffman said. “We asked the governor’s administration to give us details of a report it issued on Illinois’ worker’s compensation system, but nobody showed. The governor has specifically said this issue must be addressed to his satisfaction before he will even discuss the budget. For no one to show up to discuss the issue is unacceptable.”
“The governor is using individuals who rely on the state, including the elderly, victims of child abuse and the developmentally disabled, to pass his extreme agenda. Then his administration does not even show up to discuss part of his agenda,” Hoffman added.
Hoffman, chair of the House Labor and Commerce Committee, invited Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission chair Joann Fratianni to a hearing to discuss the agency’s Fiscal Year 2014 report, issued on June 16. Neither Fratianni nor a designee from her office attended the hearing.
In the commission report’s opening letter, Fratianni informs Rauner that worker’s compensation costs in Illinois are declining, with insurers reporting a 19 percent decrease in benefit payments over the last four years. The letter also cites a study noting Illinois saw the largest savings on workers’ compensation insurance and the largest decrease in medical payments per claim.
“It baffles me why we can’t get cooperation from the governor or his administration and discuss a public report,” Hoffman said. “Studies seem to show that Illinois is making important strides toward reducing workers’ compensation costs, yet employers tell us they have yet to realize savings. We need to know why. I agree that we must reduce costs for employers, but any plan that has the potential effect of ruining workers’ lives and leaving them with little or nothing to get by when they are unable to work would only worsen Illinois’ economic challenges and endanger middle-class families.”
Wednesday’s hearing marked the seventh time in the last month Rauner or administration officials have failed to provide information to the public on a number of issues, including salaries given to highly paid administration staff, Hoffman said.
Governor’s spokesman Lance Trover did not immediately respond to an email from the Illinois Business Journal, seeking a reaction to Hoffman’s comments.