The Senate today approved a second bill designed to bail out the Special Indemnity Fund and deliver relief to injured workers and business owners around the state. SB 680 by Sen. Brad Henry is almost identical to HB 1771, legislation which was vetoed by Governor Keating earlier this week.
The Governor's office has indicated he will sign the latest measure.
"This is a great victory, not just for the people directly affected by the legislation, but for the entire state of Oklahoma. We're going to pay off the debt we owe injured workers and give businesses the equivalent of a $120 million tax cut. It's a win-win proposition," said Senator Henry.
Under the provisions of SB 680, the State Insurance Fund will rebate surplus dollars to its customers in the form of an "extraordinary dividend," totaling approximately $120 million.
Because the State of Oklahoma is one of the insurance fund's largest customers, it will receive a rebate of approximately $30 million. That funding, in turn, will be deposited into the Special Indemnity Fund to pay off a backlog of court awards for injury claims for approximately 6,000 injured workers.
The legislation also cuts by approximately 20 percent the fees businesses and injured workers are required to pay into the Special Indemnity Fund. The National Council on Compensation Insurance estimates the legislation will result in a minimum 1.6 percent savings in the workers comp system.
"Those savings will be a boost to all Oklahoma businesses and the state economy. This is a long-term fix to a problem that's been nagging Oklahoma for years. It's good for workers, it's good for business and it's good for the state of Oklahoma," said Senator Henry.