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Ohio Employers May Receive $1 Billion in Refunds From Workers' Compensation Fund

COLUMBUS -- Ohio employers are likely to receive $1 billion in refunds on their workers' compensation premiums -- the state's second rebate since the 1990s.

The $1 billion in refunds would follow an identical amount the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation returned to employers last year, as better-than-expected returns have sent assets ballooning above expenses.

Employers, ranging from schools to construction companies to marketing firms to homeowners who employ a maid, are required to pay premiums to the bureau to cover expenses if workers are injured on the job.

Under the proposal from Gov. John Kasich's administration, each private employer would receive a refund equal to 60 percent of premiums paid from July 2012 to June 2013.

Even with the refund, the BWC's assets would still remain above their target levels -- a "cushion," as Kasich called it.

"They've earned a lot of money. I'm wondering who is doing their investing. Maybe I ought to hire them myself," Kasich joked after announcing the proposal. Still, "I like the cushion ... because who the heck knows what's going to happen with the market and this economy over the next year. There's so much uncertainty."

Employers aren't used to getting money back from the government, said Kasich, a Republican.

A statement from the campaign of Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, called that "empty rhetoric." Small businesses in Ohio have struggled after last year's quarter-percentage-point increase in the state's sales tax, the campaign said.

The BWC's board of directors will discuss Kasich's refund proposal at its meeting this month.

The proposal for the refund comes less than two months after the BWC agreed to pay $420 million to employers that were knowingly overcharged for insurance premiums. 

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