John Kasich, Ohio governor elect, selected Steve Buehrer, Fulton County’s newly reelected state senator (R-Delta) to head the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation at a press conference in Wauseon, Tuesday, Nov. 23.
“The governor elect is excited about turning the state around, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Buehrer said.
Buehrer will be sworn in for his second four-year term in the state Senate. Later, he will resign his Senate seat to head the BWC.
The Senate Republican Caucus will choose someone to replace Buehrer to serve two years, then stand for election the remainder of Buehrer’s term.
Buehrer was the human resources director for the BWC from September 1995 to February 1998, under then-governor George Voinovich. He left that job to run for state representative.
While a member of the state house, he was involved in oversight over the BWC, and helped to pass reform legislation.
In the last two years of his first term in the Senate, Buehrer was the chairman of the Senate insurance, commerce and labor committee, which left him highly involved in BWC issues.
Buehrer said Kasich and his staff do not have definite plans for the bureau.
“I’m waiting to work with the governor to help put together a set of policies, ideas, and objectives. He’s fairly far along, but he’s not finished with his thinking,” Buehrer said.
“The fact of the matter is, the governor believes BWC is a net negative when it comes to creating jobs in Ohio.”
Buehrer said Kasich plans to tackle BWC reform during his second six months in office. The first six months will be mainly dedicated to balancing the next two-year budget, which, right now, is about $8 billion in the red.
Buehrer said he’s seen BWC go full circle. When he was a legislative aide at the statehouse, he said there were tons of complaints about its inability to get claims paid.
“Then, for a few years, it quieted down. The last few years, the complaints are always coming from employers. They can’t believe their premiums,” he said.
Buehrer said if the BWC was a stand-alone, private insurance company, it would be the largest single-line (worker’s compensation only) insurer in the world.
He said he is not sure whether he will relocate his family, which includes his wife and three children, to Columbus.
Buehrer said he might be the first Fulton County native to hold a cabinet-level position in state government.– David Pugh