Washington is one of only four states that do not allow private insurers to sell workers comp policies. Here, employers must either self-insure or purchase from the state monopoly, which boosted rates this year an average of 7.6 percent. Unless things change, employers can expect another stiff premium hike next year. An employer coalition proposed legislation to reform the system without reducing worker benefits. The reforms are common across the country, yet inexplicably anathema to union leaders here. The reform bill has yet to get a legislative hearing. (Disclosure: The Washington Research Council released a report supporting the recommendations.)

Employers have also just been hit with major increases in their unemployment insurance taxes. Many Main Street businesses have seen their taxes skyrocket more than 300 percent. Even before the increase, unemployment insurance taxes per employee here were second highest in the country and more than double the national average. Increasing claims are rapidly depleting the state’s once-healthy unemployment insurance trust fund. Despite this, Democratic leaders continue to entertain union-backed legislation to make it easier for part-time employees and people who voluntarily quit their jobs to receive benefits — a proposal that will increase the drain on the trust fund and trigger higher taxes.

Excerpt taken from HeraldNet, Everett, WA
By Richard S. Davis
Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010
via Don Brunell, President AWB (Assoc. of WA Business)