For the past year, Ohio ranked first in the Midwest in job creation, and eighth in the nation. We are retaining and creating jobs, and that's what we promised to do. Improving the worker's compensation system is another key component to job retention and growth.
A considerable amount of our attention in the legislature throughout the past year has been working with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to reduce costs and, therefore, save taxpayers money. I am proud of the progress the BWC has made in reducing its budget by 12 percent over the next two years, saving taxpayers $80 million over that time. Furthermore, by simply cutting public employer rates by 5 percent, local governments will save up to $22 million a year. These slight cuts will make a positive impact on local governments, which have already had to cut back in order to stay with their budgets.
This effort also included the implementation of the Common Sense Initiative. Under CSI, new employers are granted one-time forgiveness should they fail to meet their premium costs; this program grants greater leeway to vital job creators within Ohio. Ohio's top priority at this time is getting its citizens back to work, and we must be committed to doing everything we can to make this goal a reality. In the past year, CSI waived nearly $750,000 in premiums and interest payments for these employers.
The BWC has also focused on improving Ohio's return-to-work rates and the speed at which workers are able to get back on the job. Through the newly created Destination: Excellence program, employers can be rewarded for constructing risk management plans that focus on safety and prevention. Putting these types of safety nets in place is just another way to save valuable tax dollars.
In other legislative matters, the House recently passed a bill that places greater emphasis on the teaching of important historical documents in our public school systems. The bill specifies that the state's academic standards for grades 4-12 include the original texts of historical documents, which include the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, Ohio Constitution and the Northwest Ordinance.
That the bill received bipartisan support in the House is not surprising to me because I believe it transcends party lines. Regardless of our unique opinions about social and economic policies, we can all agree that those opinions should be based on the documents and the principles contained within those documents that have paved the way for this exceptional country. Learning about these fundamental documents establishes a foundation of knowledge that all Americans should understand and appreciate.
Rep. Thompson may be reached by calling (614) 644-8728, e-mailing District93@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Andy Thompson, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio, 43215.