An expected hike of nearly 50 percent for teacher insurance premiums at the start of 2014 had officials meeting at the Capitol Monday. Governor Mike Beebe said a consensus between teachers, superintendents, and lawmakers are needed before a special session is convened to address it.
“It’s the way I do business. We get the people on the front line the people that actually help make the policy involved in the negotiation stages, the discussion stages, and the formulation stages rather than just doing something in an ivory tower somewhere and presenting it to them and saying take it or leave it. That’s not good public policy and it’s not good leadership. This is part of the process we go through whenever you’ve got a new issue to be resolved. So far I’m optimistic, now that doesn’t mean we’re going to have a consensus,” said Beebe.
Beebe announced a 30 day delay in the October 1st enrollment of teachers in insurance plans so that legislators might find a solution and therefore give teachers the option of keeping or dropping their coverage in the event legislators change it.
“We’re going to back up for public school employees the enrollment date from October 1st to November 1st. That gives some more breathing room as we work with the general assembly, teachers groups, public school employees groups to see if any consensus can be achieved. So, this gives another month in effect for those employees so they’re not forced to make a decision either to keep it or not keep it,” said Beebe.
Beebe said a three day special session is likely to follow if a consensus is reached. That must include both sort-term fixes and a long term systemic solution.