Workers' comp overhaul may not prevent rate hike

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A major overhaul of Washington's workers' compensation system may not prevent a rate increase for businesses.

The Department of Labor & Industries plans to announce Tuesday its proposed rates for 2012. The agency has been considering increases ranging from 4.5 to 8 percent, saying a high increase in 2012 will restore depleted reserves faster and lead to lower rate changes in the future.

Businesses that fund the system faced an average rate increase of 12 percent for 2011. They worked with lawmakers this year to change the system so that the state could offer settlements to workers that would lower payout costs over the long term.