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Health News Florida

Montford Schools Fellow Lawmakers On Workers' Comp Rate Hike

The Palm Beach County School Board is facing an unexpected $1.5 million rise in workers' compensation insurance premiums after court rulings spurred a 14.5 percent rate increase statewide. Schools in Florida are often the county's biggest employer.
The Palm Beach County School Board is facing an unexpected $1.5 million rise in workers' compensation insurance premiums after court rulings spurred a 14.5 percent rate increase statewide. Schools in Florida are often the county's biggest employer.

Democratic Senator Bill Montford of Tallahassee is warning fellow lawmakers that a dramatic spike in workers’ compensation rates isn’t just a business problem.

The Palm Beach County School Board is facing an unexpected $1.5 million rise in workers' compensation insurance premiums after court rulings spurred a 14.5 percent rate increase statewide. Schools in Florida are often the county's biggest employer.
The Palm Beach County School Board is facing an unexpected $1.5 million rise in workers' compensation insurance premiums after court rulings spurred a 14.5 percent rate increase statewide. Schools in Florida are often the county's biggest employer.

Montford’s day job is CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. School districts are often the largest employer in a county, and a 14.5 percent rate hike is hitting school budgets hard, Montford warns.

“It’s a moving target, if you will. But preliminary figures look like, just for Miami-Dade alone, $3.2 million. For Hillsborough, something like $1.4. So if you multiply that out across the state, it’s a significant impact.”

Employer groups are blaming recent court rulings that reversed business-friendly reforms from 2003. Conservative Republicans, led by former Gov. Jeb Bush, cut benefits and capped attorney fees to lower premiums.

The 14.5 percent rate hike spurred by the rulings is being challenged in the First District Court of Appeal. But in the meantime, Palm Beach County schools are expecting to pay up to $1.4 million more in premiums, says district lobbyist Vernon Pickup-Crawford.

“The bottom line is it is an unbudgeted expense for this current year and we are going to be closely watching what happens because it is an additional cost.”

The $1.4 million-dollar hike is a sizeable chunk of the additional $40 million lawmakers appropriated for the district last year, Pickup-Crawford says. He says it will have to come out of district reserves.

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