09/21/2002 11:00PM

California gets workers' comp offer


ARCADIA, Calif. - Horsemen and representatives of California racetracks will meet Monday at Santa Anita to discuss a written proposal from American International Group for a new Workers' Compensation program.

The AIG program would reduce current base rates by nearly one-third from its current $43 per $100 level.

California horsemen currently have only one workers' comp insurer, State Fund.

Included in the AIG proposal are provisions to provide coverage for horsemen who send horses to the state to run in stakes races and a $300,000 top-end limit on catastrophic claims.

If approved, the program could begin as early as Oct. 1.

The financing of the program would be done in the form of security payments that would come from the stabling and vanning fund, pending Gov. Gray Davis signing an emergency bill to help free those funds, and the tracks.

Jim Ghidella, Northern California director of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, has spent two years trying to formulate a plan to cut workers' comp costs.

He said that the proposed security costs were higher than originally contemplated but that the funds for security costs tracks would put up could eventually be returned.

"This could be an absolute shot in the arm to the industry," Ghidella said.