SPRINGFIELD – Reforms to Illinois' workers' compensation laws could help the state attract companies and jobs to its increasingly dismal business scene, according to the vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute.
Legislation expected to provide changes to the state's current workers' compensation structure is on the table, but those changes are marginal and wouldn't be enough to garner the attention of businesses and to push them to migrate to Illinois when they have more ideal options in neighboring states.
Michael Lucci said proper workers’ compensation legislation could be the move that the business community is waiting for to welcome them to the state and show them Illinois is a place for their company investment.
“The legislature would be well advised to signal to the business and investment community that they intend to make Illinois a nice place to invest and grow jobs, especially in the blue-collar tech industries because that’s who is affected by workers’ compensation,” Lucci told the Madison County Record. “It’s something that Illinois desperately needs.”
Workers’ compensation traditionally affects manufacturing jobs as well as the construction and transportation sectors, which Lucci said are the same jobs that are lost by the thousands throughout the state.
“Illinois has really been bleeding these type jobs to other states such as Indiana, and workers’ compensation is one of the reasons,” Lucci said. “People here really don’t have a lot of work opportunity compared to surrounding states.”
Illinois boasts the highest unemployment rate in the region, which is even higher when you also consider its “underemployed.”
The state is suffering from high tax rates and a deep financial crisis, which can easily dissuade a company from moving into the state due to the costs they have to pay now or may have to pay in the future as the budget crisis worsens.
“People here are really short on opportunities to have a good job, and changing workers’ compensation just so it’s a more balanced system would be one of the ways to help bring back those jobs,” Lucci said. “It would definitely help and we would be getting jobs we wouldn’t normally get.”
With the financial problems Illinois is facing, changes in workers’ compensation isn’t enough to fix all the job and business woes.
However, it could be the start the state needs to get back on its feet and put it more in line with neighboring states in terms of what it offers to attract businesses to the area.
“Workers compensation alone is not going to be enough to fix the state of Illinois,” said Lucci. “It is certainly necessary to fix the state economy, but it’s not sufficient to do so.”