Crouch: Workers’ Comp Agreement Victory for Sluggish Upstate Economy

Win-win for Labor and Business
February 27, 2007

Assemblyman Cliff Crouch (R-Guilford) was pleased to announce today that the agreement reached between the Governor and the Legislature to overhaul the workers’ compensation system includes many of the proposals he has been championing for years. The agreement includes measures to increase worker protections while making the entire system less costly for business.

“Today is a major step forward in reforming the way New York State does business. I have always recognized the importance of protecting the rights of injured workers while making workers' comp insurance affordable to employers,” said Crouch. “However, it was increasingly clear that our workers’ compensation system was broken. Today’s agreement represents the progress that can be made when government, labor, and business work together toward a solution.”

The highlight for labor is the increase in benefits for injured workers for the first time since 1992. Currently, the maximum benefit workers can receive weekly is $400 and the minimum is $40. However, this agreement would increase that cap to $500 and a minimum of $100. Over the next four years the maximum cash benefit would increase to two-thirds of the average weekly wage in New York State and upon reaching that level they would be indexed annually.

The highlight for business is the cost-saving initiative, first introduced by the Assembly minority conference, which will cap the number of years a person can receive permanent partial disability cash benefits. However, medical assistance will continue while establishing a safety net for those facing outstanding financial hardship. In addition, measures combating fraud and increasing penalties for violators have been included.

“Workers’ compensation reform is something my colleagues and I have been advocating for years,” said Crouch. “I am happy to be a part of this agreement today.”