Senate Approves Bill to Hike Arizona Workers’ Injury Benefits

June 13, 2007

The Arizona Senate approved a workers’ compensation bill to carry out a business-labor compromise to increase Arizona’s caps on benefits received by employees who are hurt on the job.

The Senate’s 24-2 vote sends the bill (HB2195) to the House, which previously considered a version of the bill without the caps increase.

Under the bill, raising the current cap would benefit workers making more than $28,800 annually.

The current $2,400 monthly cap on how much of an injured worker’s pay can be used to calculate benefits would rise to $3,000 in 2008 and $3,600 in 2009. It then would be adjusted annually by the annual percentage increase in the mean wage paid in Arizona, up to 5 percent a year.

Workers get benefits for two-thirds of the cap amount. The current $2,400 monthly cap was set in 1999 and translates into a maximum monthly payment of $1,600. The benefits are not taxed.

The possibility of a labor-mounted campaign to put an initiative on workers’ compensation benefits on the 2008 ballot spurred business representatives to compromise on the legislation, participants in the talks said.

In exchange for business agreement on the inflation indexing, labor scaled back its demands for higher caps and also signaled a willingness to discuss medical-cost issues of concern to businesses, participants said.

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