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Second Injury Fund is Broke

The state doesn’t have enough money to pay it obligations to some injured workers. State Auditor Tom Schweich sent Governor Jay Nixon and lawmakers a letter Friday stating the Second Injury Fund is broke.That fund is for people already getting worker’s compensation money and then get injured again. Right now the Second Injury Fund in about $25-million in debt. Auditor Tom Schweich tells ABC 17 News there are two options right now. One is to put restrictions on the fund of who can get it, and another is to just get rid of the fund all together. But the ones responsible for coming up with a solution are lawmakers and they haven’t been able to pass anything on it in years.An audit done in 2007 shows the fund would be nearly broke by now. That prediction is true.”It owes $28-million dollars to existing claimants. It does not have sufficient resources to pay off future benefits for existing claimants, and it certainly does not have enough money for new claims that would be filed,” Schweich says.Currently the fund only has about $3.2-million in it. The fund collects money from businesses paying an extra charge for worker’s compensation. The problem started in 2005 when lawmakers capped that extra charge from 10% to 3%.”It’s systematically grown over the years,” republican senator from Wentzville, Scott Rupp explains. “We need to pair it back to kind of the protection of the worker and get rid of some of the benefits that never were designed, and also probably going to have to look at the funding stream.”Schweich believes a solution needs to be figured out in this current legislative session. That’s because the Attorney General’s office estimates there are more than 30,000 cases being looked into right now that has the potential to cost the state more than $100-million.”We’ve made our contribution by making the number starkly clear, so they know exactly what needs to be done now it’s their job to get it done,” Schweich says.State leaders say if lawmakers raise that extra workers compensation charge back to at least 7%, it would pay off that $25-million debt. Lawmakers tell us this affects every single business in the state and they need to find a balance of protecting workers and businesses.

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