HELENA — The board of the state’s largest workers’ compensation insurer cut its rates by 20 percent on Friday, a move that some hope will help the business community and encourage more job creation and higher wages.
The 7-0 vote by the Montana State Fund board (MSF) comes on the heels of House Bill 334, a massive workers’ compensation reform package passed in the 2011 legislative session. Although it’s workers’ compensation costs are going down, Montana has the highest workers’ compensation rates in the country.
And lawmakers in the most recent session made workers’ compensation reform a top priority.
The MSF board’s decision was not made without some hesitancy though, as some members wondered if 20 percent was too deep a cut and suggested going with a 17 percent reduction instead.
But two legislative liaisons, Rep. Chuck Hunter, D-Helena and Sen. Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, told the panel that lawmakers – and some businesses – would complain if the reduction were any less than 20 percen
“If you go below 20 percent you’ll hear cries of ‘Wait a second, cut more,’” Balyeat said.