Top Democrat Accuses Haslam of Class Warfare

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Rep. Mike Turner
  • Rep. Mike Turner
Nashville Rep. Mike Turner accused Gov. Bill Haslam of “taking money right out of the pockets of working people” with the GOP's so-called reforms of the state’s workers’ compensation system and employee pension plan. Turner said today he confronted the governor on the issue at his weekly breakfast meeting with legislative leaders.

“They’re doing all these things for the businesses and the wealthy people,” the House’s second-ranking Democrat told reporters. “I asked the governor, when are we going to do something for the working people? There’s a trend here. We’re not really doing anything for the average Tennessean.”

Haslam’s workers’ comp bill takes claim disputes out of the court system and establishes a state agency to handle them, and the new system is rigged against workers who are injured on the job. The governor appoints the agency’s director, and the director selects the administrative judges to hear cases.

Haslam claims he’s trying to create “a fair playing field.” But as the pro-union Tennessee Citizen Action points out, his workers’ comp czar will become the ultimate decider of disputes. “What’s fair and impartial about that?” Citizen Action’s Mary Mancini asks.

Adds Turner: “They talk about how great and fair it is. It appears that they are taking money right out of the pockets of working people.”

As for pension plan changes, Turner points out, “Our pension system is sound. It’s never been overly generous. They’re asking the people to pay more and the state’s giving them less.”

Here's the governor himself on video explaining his workers' comp plan:

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