Last week the Arkansas legislature went into a special session in order to enact legislation that would prevent a 50 percent rate hike in health insurance for teachers and school employees. The rate hike was scheduled to take place on January 1. Arkansas News Network reports that Gov. Mike Beebe signed several pieces of legislation into law on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013.
Help for teachers
Gov. Mike Beebe signed Acts 1 through 6 into law today. These acts were from legislation passed in both the House and Senate last week during a special session. School teachers and employees are facing an increase in health insurance premiums of up to 50 percent. Since many teachers say they cannot afford such a steep increase, the legislature went into a special session to see if emergency funds were available to ease the burden on school employees.
Act 1, which was Senate Bill 4, allows for the use of $16 million in funds that were allocated to school building facilities. These programs are in the process of being phased out so the money is available for other uses. This money will be used to offset health insurance premiums for school employees starting in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Act 2, SB 5, redirected $10 million for teacher professional development. The act reduces the amount of money allotted for teacher development from $54 per student to $32.20 per student.
Acts 3 and 6, which were SB5 and HB 1011 respectively, were identical bills. They called for a task force to study insurance premiums for all teachers and school employees.
Act 5, which was House Bill 1003, transfers $43 million from the state surplus in order to avoid an almost 50 percent increase in health care premiums for teachers and other school employees.
Act 4, which was House Bill 1002, did not pertain to the teacher’s health insurance issues. This bill repealed Act 954 which eased regulations on entities that discharge minerals into Arkansas waterways that are not used for drinking water.
Lynda Altman is very concerned about the state of the public schools in Arkansas and the United States. She writes a blog called Homeschooling When Mom has Cancer. Get notices when this page is updated by clicking on the subscribe link, by email, or contact Lynda @fusgeyer on Twitter.