Proposal To Avert Health Insurance Increase For Teachers Advances

Oct 18, 2013

Arkansas lawmakers Friday approved legislation aimed at averting health insurance rate increases of up to 50 percent that are otherwise set to hit thousands of teachers next year.

The House and Senate on passed identical but separate bills that call for using $43 million in state surplus money this year. Those proposals will head to the opposite chambers for final votes.

The House also approved a series of long-term changes to the insurance program that supporters say are needed to keep it sustainable and avoid future efforts to boost funding.

This is the second day of a special session called by Governor Mike Beebe to address the teacher insurance premiums.

Meanwhile a plan to allow Arkansas to withhold excess property tax revenue from a handful of school districts is in jeopardy after facing obstacles in the House.

Democratic Senator Bruce Maloch of Magnolia said Friday morning he does not plan to bring up the proposal before the Senate after an identical bill was tabled by a House committee.

But Governor Beebe's office said the governor and administration officials were contacting members of the House panel to win support for the proposal.

It would allow the state to keep excess property tax revenue from districts where higher property tax collections pushed the districts above total school funding levels set by state law.

It would also phase out the excess revenue from eight districts where collections are currently above that funding level.

A lawsuit is expected if such a plan is approved.