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AB 553 To Deplete Voucher Fund Every Year

Once in a while, your humble blogger receives tips from his beloved readers – new cases, new stories, new theories.  It is, of course, greatly appreciated (that’s a hint, folks- your humble blogger needs to be fed!)

But, once in a while, someone will e-mail asking advise, and if we only care to read between the lines, the question is always the same: “Greg, why can’t we have nice things?”

Well, there are lots of answers, but allow me to make you aware of Assembly Bill 553 introduced by Assemblyman Tom Daly.  To answer your question, THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!

The reason why workers are often pushing so hard for the voucher is because it gives them an extra $6.5k on top of most settlements.  There’s up to $1,000 for a laptop, $500 in miscellaneous expenses, and, of course, access to up to $5,000 from the general injured worker fund.  Don’t worry about them actually using the remaining $3.5k that defendants pay directly – the actual use of a voucher for re-education is akin to a Unicorn, an Yeti, or an applicants’ attorney that charges a reasonable rate for 5710 fees.

Now, don’t let anyone sell you on that nonsense that this extra $5,000 comes from the State of California – it doesn’t.  The State of California doesn’t have anything – it doesn’t own business or farms or factories.  It is a myth, a figment of our imagination.  The fund comes from money taken by the State of California from California’s employers and insurers.  It is spoil, the loot, the pillage of the part of California that is productive.

And what does Assemblyman Daly propose?  He wants the $120 million fund that is taken from employers to be emptied every year, whether there are 24,000 eligible vouchers submitted or not.  That way, there is a guaranteed assessment of the full $120,000,000 per year, instead of just a replenishment of the depleted portion of the fund.

Obviously, your humble blogger is disappointed.  I would welcome legislative efforts to reduce the administrative and financial burden placed on employers; I would welcome efforts to bring the hammer of justice down as hard of fraud-committing injured workers as illegally uninsured employers; I would welcome efforts to allow more freedom for employers and employees to make mutually beneficial agreements rather than be forced into one peg or another pre-set by Sacramento.

I would especially welcome something to protect Judges from ethics complaints for approving settlements without vouchers when the record does not support entitlement to a voucher, which is the real problem with vouchers and their inhibition of settlements.

Instead, we get an effort to break the piggy bank every year, whether it’s warranted or not.

Doesn’t California already have a lottery system?  Why do we need a second one just for workers turning their vouchers in?

Now, you can expect some people to complain about this approach: “we live in a socieeeeeeety and we have to look out for the less foooooooortunate.”  The less fortunate among us are those quickly losing employability to automation.  As much as automation is inevitable, Sacramento should be focused on making human labor as competitive as possible to slow down its approach and afford Californians time for retraining.  Instead, Sacramento has decided to steer the Titanic straight towards the iceberg and pat themselves on the back all the way down to the bottom of the ocean.

But, then again, who needs nice things?

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