OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Workers' compensation rates would climb by an average of 7.6 percent next year, under changes proposed by state labor officials.

State Labor and Industries Director Judy Schurke says the rate hike would raise about $120 million for the state-run insurance program, which pays lost wages, medical bills and pensions for injured workers.

Schurke says the state has pushed the proposed rate hike as low as possible, given the slow economy.

But Republicans say the rate hike is still too high for struggling businesses. State Sen. Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, is among those calling for reforms to help keep costs down.

Final rates won't be set until late November, after public hearings.

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