Wednesday, April 20, 2011

St. Rep. Wachtmann Calls Allegations by Innovation Ohio a "Baseless Distraction"

COLUMBUS—In response to a frivolous, baseless press release authored by the newly formed liberal think-tank “Innovation Ohio,” Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) issued the following statement:

“Today, Ohioans are seeing that Democrats and their so-called ‘think-tanks’ are not interested in solving the problems facing Ohio, as evidenced by their flawed press release issued today,” Rep. Wachtmann said. “First and foremost, the allegations made by Innovation Ohio are outright lies.”

In an effort to clear up these misconceptions, Rep. Wachtmann clarified that:

1) Virginia McInerney is no longer the director of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Council (WCC) – currently, there is no director.

2) The WCC has completed four different reports—not one as claimed—analyzing five bills, completed an analysis of an additional five bills under consideration by the General Assembly, and continued compilation of a resource database of over 600 documents related to workers’ compensation.

3) In the original budget that included funding for the council, it set aside $500,000 for an actuarial study. That money has not yet been spent. Costs associated with the WCC are largely startup costs that will not be incurred again. Additionally, in the first 20 months of the WCC, the council only used 66 percent of its total budget approved by the legislature.

Given that workers’ compensation is the state’s largest insurance fund, Rep. Wachtmann said he believes that it was vital from the beginning to have legislative oversight of this important function of the state. “I strongly believe, from past experience, that spending a few thousand dollars a year to protect workers, especially injured workers, should be a high priority for the legislature,” Rep. Wachtmann said. “It is a shame that this liberal group does not want these protections.”

House members on both sides of the aisle praised the work of the council. In 2010, Rep. Lynn Wachtmann himself, as a member of the council, was quoted as saying the panel serves an important oversight role on behalf of the legislature (Columbus Dispatch, 6/5/10). In 2009, WCC Vice-chairman Rep. Tom Letson (D-Warren) defended the council, saying he believed it would provide legislators a valuable service (Gongwer).

“Once again, we have Democrats and their so-called ‘think-tank’ trying to distract the public with lies and misinformation while we are trying to deal with the $8 billion budget deficit that they saddled us with,” Rep. Wachtmann said. “Instead of offering proposals to reform Ohio’s workers’ compensation system or do anything of substance, Democrats and Innovation Ohio are sitting on the sidelines screaming false accusations.”

Rep. Wachtmann went on to say these recent attacks mirror the same political games that were echoed by former State Representative Dan Dodd (D-Hebron), who was a co-sponsor of the bill that funded the council before ultimately opposing it.

“Dan Dodd—who voted for the creation of this council—served as a member, criticized it from his bully pulpit, and now is rumored to serve as a consultant for Innovation Ohio,” Rep. Wachtmann said. “It would not surprise me if this was his way of attempting to become relevant again.”