L&I to increase workers' comp premiums

Workers' compensation premiums will likely increase by an average 7.6 percent next year, the state Department of Labor and Industries said.

While the proposed increase was less than the 15 percent to 20 percent increase L&I had predicted, small businesses say they’re not happy.

The National Federation of Independent Business, meeting this week in Walla Walla, on Tuesday called the change a “whopping tax increase.”

“It’s almost immoral. I don’t hear them cutting anything. Maybe they’re not filling vacancies, but I don’t see them cutting anything,” said Chuck Mott, owner of Innovac of Edmonds.

“This is another additional cost coming at a time when we’ve already lost a great deal of money,” he said.

L&I Director Judy Schurke said the increase was driven by factors out of the department’s control: reduced investment returns, less income because of reduced work force hours and fewer jobs to which injured workers can return.

Health care inflation of 8.5 percent also played a role in forcing the rates upward, she said.

John Gillie, The News Tribune