FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #98-33
Tuesday, September 1, 1998

CONTACT:
Rick Rice
Dean Fryer
(415) 972-8835


Funding for Workers' Compensation Study, More Labor and Safety Investigations Top DIR's 1998-99 Budget

SAN FRANCISCO --"We at the Department of Industrial Relations are very pleased that the 1998-99 Budget signed into law by Governor Wilson provides the Department with a total of $225.2 million to promote, protect and improve the health, safety and economic well-being of Californians in the workplace," said Director John C. Duncan. "This budget will allow the Department to firmly sustain and supplant its efforts over the next year, in step with California's expanded economy and ever-increasing workforce," Duncan noted.

Enhancements in the final budget include:

"The bulk of these budget items address specific education and enforcement priorities identified by the Governor," Duncan said, "and the Department will work expeditiously in turning this funding into actions that will benefit employees, employers and the taxpayers of California."

Included in the 98-99 Budget is $1.2 million which will allow the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation(CHSWC) to conduct a comprehensive study of the workers' compensation permanent disability rating schedule (PDRS). "This study will allow the Commission to continue its mandate of monitoring the state of the workers' compensation system following the historically successful reforms of 1993," Duncan said. "This will provide updated information to aid the Commission in making recommendations for further improvements to the system, as the reforms require."

The Governor also vetoed certain items from DIR's budget. Having expressed support in the past for full funding of the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC), which is charged with setting the state's labor standards including minimum wages and hours of work, the Governor eliminated the $110,000 earmarked by the Legislature for the IWC to rescind the overtime provisions which became effective on January 1, 1998. The Governor also indicated that the amount failed to provide the IWC with the resources necessary to carry out its statutorily mandated responsibilities.

Also eliminated from the budget was $28,300 for the California Apprenticeship Council. The reduction was made in order to eliminate regulatory restrictions placed on the Council by the Legislature at the behest of organized labor. The Governor indicated that the language infringes upon the ability of the Executive Branch to operate the program in accordance with existing statute, and that funding for the Council will continue to be provided by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards within the Department of Industrial Relations.

The Governor also eliminated language from the budget which would have restricted the Department's ability to set prevailing wages for public works projects and eliminated $1.8 million which the Legislature added for the Targeted Inspection and Consultation Program under Cal/OSHA. The program was intended to be a self funded program, and adequate funding exists within the Department to continue the program through the end of the fiscal year.

"In all," Duncan said, "DIR's budget for the 1998-99 fiscal year reflects the healthy state of California's economy and will enable the Department of Industrial Relations to carry out its mandate and firmly pursue the goals set by the Wilson Administration."

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