Governor DeWine Recommends Additional Funding for Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation's Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today submitted to the General Assembly his recommendations for funding the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and the Ohio Industrial Commission (OIC) for the upcoming 2020-2021 budget biennium.
“This budget reflects our commitment to make Ohio a safe and productive place to work and to ensure those injured on the job receive excellent service and care,” said Governor DeWine.
“Our number one goal is to create a culture of safety throughout Ohio,” said BWC Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud. “This budget helps keep Ohio workplaces safe while keeping costs in check for Ohio employers.”
The recommended two-year, $645 million budget for BWC takes into consideration the proposed 20 percent reduction in the average premium rate BWC charges private employers, the largest rate reduction in nearly 60 years.
The appropriated budgets for BWC and OIC cover the agencies’ administrative operations and are supported by workers’ compensation premiums paid by Ohio employers. Benefits, including lost wages and medical benefits for injured workers, are paid separately from the State Insurance Fund.
As part of BWC’s proposed budget, Governor DeWine is recommending a multi-million dollar increase to BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program, which helps employers hire and retain workers recovering from substance use disorders. BWC launched the program in October to support employers in Scioto, Ross, and Montgomery counties. Governor DeWine's proposal would appropriate $15 million to the program over the biennium to help employers in other parts of the state. The proposed budget also includes $3 million over the biennium for a statewide safety awareness and education campaign to help make employers aware of the program.
“The Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program aligns with my RecoveryOhio Plan to empower employers to help workers with substance use disorders,” said Governor DeWine. “By expanding this program, we hope to help more businesses throughout the state maintain their workforce, help suffering employees, and reduce workplace risks.”
The recommendations also reflect Governor DeWine’s commitment to ensuring workplace safety by proposing $2 million to create a new Safety and Health Center of Excellence. The proposed center would utilize and expand on BWC’s existing occupational safety and health infrastructure to test and deploy advances in science and technology to prevent occupational accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
In addition, the budget proposes $40 million over the biennium for safety grants, including grants to purchase equipment and improve processes to make workplaces safer; grants to enhance safety and security in schools; and grants and programs to protect firefighters and law enforcement.
The recommended budget for the Ohio Industrial Commission maintains its current staffing levels. OIC conducts over 108,000 hearings annually regarding disputed workers’ compensation claims, providing a forum for fair and impartial claims resolution.
"I thank Representative Scott Oelslager for sponsoring the bills, and I look forward to working with Speaker Householder, Senate President Obhoff, and the rest of the legislature on the upcoming budget process," said Governor DeWine.
Ohio Revised Code Section 101.532 requires that the budgets for BWC and the Industrial Commission be enacted in distinct bills, separate from the main appropriations bill. Governor DeWine will submit recommendations for the main operating budget to the General Assembly for consideration on March 15, 2019. The new state fiscal year begins on July 1.
Established in 1912, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is the exclusive provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Ohio and serves 242,000 public and private employers. With 1,800 employees and assets of approximately $27 billion, BWC is the largest state-run insurance system in the United States.