Workers' comp measure too weak to retain, grow jobs in Illinois, Barickman contends
Making little changes to the huge problems in the Illinois workers' compensation problem is not going to stop the state from bleeding jobs, Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) argued Friday during debate on House Bill 2525.
The measure, presented to the Senate by Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), would enact measures to monitor and regulate workers' compensation rates and premiums. While Barickman applauded Raoul’s effort, he urged a "no" vote, saying the bill didn't go far enough.
“Many of us on this side of the aisle appreciate the hard work that the sponsor has put in on this issue in years past and again here today," Barickman said. "Unfortunately, I rise in opposition to this bill and in doing so want to draw attention to the climate we have in our state and the serious attention that I hope we as a body will place on the economic conditions in our state.”
According to Barickman, Illinois has lost 1,600 manufacturing jobs since 2009, while neighboring states Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin have gained them in stunning numbers. In the same eight-year period, Michigan saw an increase of 164,000 manufacturing jobs, Indiana gained 91,000, Ohio picked up 77,000 and Wisconsin saw an increase of 41,000.
“Illinois' loss of jobs and inability to attract jobs is crushing our middle class,” Barickman said. “Some people talk about the job loss that occur to foreign nations, [but] we have to be real about the jobs that we are losing to our neighboring state, to our peers around our United States. Since 2009, Illinois has lost manufacturing jobs continuously.”
Barickman argued that manufacturing work is critical to retaining the state’s population, recruiting people from across the country and maintaining vital programs like education and human services.
“To me this is totally unacceptable," he said. We need to see the job growth that comes through meaningful reforms to our workers' comp and other systems that would create an environment here in Illinois where we can begin to see middle-class jobs creation."
Barickman said the measure before the Senate needed offer much bigger changes.
“I, today, believe this legislation falls far short in providing some of those necessary reforms that are critical to us in our state [to see] the economic growth that we need to see here,” he said.
HB2525 passed the Senate 35-19.
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