Innovation Ohio Responds to Watchmann: Asks Auditor to Look into Workers’ Comp Council

For Immediate Release:
April 21, 2011

Contact: Dale Butland
614-783-5833

INNOVATION OHIO REPLIES TO WACHTMANN;
ASKS AUDITOR TO LOOK INTO WORKERS’ COMP COUNCIL

Columbus–Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, said today that Rep. Lynn Wachtmann’s April 20 news release regarding the Workers Compensation Council (WCC) raised “a host of new questions about the WCC that merit review by Auditor of State David Yost.”Late Wednesday evening, Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) issued a news release defending the WCC and criticizing Innovation Ohio for raising questions about the agency’s million dollar budget, the exorbitant salary paid to its sole employee, Virginia McInerney, and the WCC’s lack of work product over the past three years.  Read IO’s original release here.

Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland:

“Yesterday, the mess at the WCC looked like a boondoggle.  Today–after reviewing Rep. Wachtmann’s news release–it looks more like a scandal.  The WCC is rife with waste, mismanagement, and a use of state funds that is at best questionable. Auditor of State Yost should give the WCC a thorough review.

“This is an agency that has a single employee, who was once Director but apparently no longer is, who has no apparent supervisor and who presumably reports to no one.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, the four “reports” cited by Rep.Wachtmann as WCC work product appear to have been completed in 2009.  Yet Ms. McInerney continues to receive a salary of over $102,000 per year — the same salary she received when she was Director. Since 2008, she’s raked in over $330,000 — not including benefits.

At a minimum, Auditor Yost should determine: what, precisely, has Ms. McInerney done to earn this large amount of money?   Why is her salary the same as when she was Director? If her last completed reports were in 2009, how has she occupied her time in 2010 and 2011?  Who supervises her work and to whom is she accountable?

“In the meantime, perhaps Rep. Wachtmann would be good enough to give Ohio taxpayers and the businesses who pay assessments to fund the WCC some answers to the following questions raised by his own April 20 news release:

1)  You say that Ms. McInerney is “no longer the Director” and “currently, there is no Director.”  When did she cease being Director?  Were all legislative members of the WCC informed when she vacated that position?  Why is Ms. McInerney still receiving the same $102,000 salary got when she WAS the Director?  DAS records indicate Ms. McInerney is the WCC’s sole employee. To whom does she report? If the WCC’s function is as important as you say it is, how can it operate without a Director? When will a new one be hired?

2)  You also assert that the WCC completed 4 different reports and several analyses. Will you release these documents? When was the last one authored? Why were they not put on the WCC website for public inspection?

3)  You say that a half million dollars appropriated for a WCC actuarial study “has not been spent” and that the WCC has “used only 66% of the total budget approved by the legislature.” If the WCC is only spending a fraction of the money appropriated for it, why are you and the Kasich administration asking for another nearly $1 million appropriation in the proposed budget for FY 11 and 12? Why is the Office of Consumers Counsel funding being cut by 50%, but WCC funding remaining the same? And why are Ohio businesses still being asked to pay assessments in order to fund this agency?

4)   Gov. Kasich and legislators such as yourself have told local governments and school districts to tighten their belts and accept substantial budget cuts.  You’re asking police, firefighters and teachers to sacrifice on their wages and benefits.  Why should such sacrifices not also be expected of the WCC and Ms. McInerney, especially since she no longer serves as Director?

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