OKLAHOMA CITY - A Senate leader is urging Governor Keating to join the growing chorus of voices calling for a significant cut in workers compensation rates. The State Board of Property and Casualty Rates will consider rate cut requests at a meeting later this month.
"As Frank Keating has said so many times, the Governor's office is a bully pulpit that can be used to accomplish great changes. I'm just asking the Governor to use his bully pulpit or at least loan it to us for awhile so we can reduce workers compensation costs in Oklahoma. It's the best thing we can do for business," said Senator Keith Leftwich, Majority Whip of the Oklahoma Senate.
In a letter to the Governor, the South Oklahoma City lawmaker asked Keating to join a long list of state officials who have formally called on the state property board to follow the recommendations of actuaries and reduce workers comp premiums paid by Oklahoma businesses. To date, Leftwich and a number of Senators, House Speaker Loyd Benson and Insurance Commissioner John Crawford have all publicly called for a rate reduction.
An independent actuary hired by the Attorney General has recommended a cut of 12.9 percent, citing the impact of recent reforms approved by the Legislature.
"We're all out shaking the trees for a rate cut, Democrats and Republicans, trying to save Oklahoma businesses some money. I just think we would be a little more effective if Governor Keating joined us in calling for at least the 13 percent cut recommended by the actuary," said Senator Leftwich.
Governor Keating, who said recently that workers compensation is the top issue facing the state, has yet to announce his support for the proposed rate cut. All of the members of the state property board, except the Insurance Commissioner, were appointed by Governor Keating.
"I think Governor Keating could have considerable influence on this rate case, " said Senator Leftwich.
A press release issued this week by Keating Finance Director Tom Daxon speculated that a 10 percent reduction in workers comp costs would boost Oklahomans' personal income and create 8,000 new jobs.
"Even though those projections haven't been verified yet, they are just one more reason to support a comp cut. I'm very hopeful Governor Keating will back the 13 percent cut, but he needs to make that clear to the board," noted Senator Leftwich.
The Senate leader has offered to join Governor Keating at a joint press conference on the subject.
"This is such an important issue, it deserves as much publicity as we can give it. I know when Governor Keating calls a press conference, he can generate a lot of attention. It could be a big boost to our efforts to reduce workers comp rates," said Senator Leftwich.