This is a solution to teacher insurance problem? | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This is a solution to teacher insurance problem?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 7:05 AM

The legislature apparently is nearing consensus among members on a "solution" to the teacher insurance crisis.

It is no solution.

The emerging legislation rests — first — on stealing school district money (savings on federal payroll taxes that accrue from insurance contributions) and applying it to insurance costs. This is called robbing Peter to pay Paul. That money is budgeted for other uses in the school districts already.

It also rests on tossing part-time employees off insurance and into the potential welcoming arms of Obamacare, a program that a healthy segment of the legislature is vowing to kill in Arkansas.

It also rests on tossing spouses of school district employees off insurance coverage if they can get coverage at work (never mind if it's expensive and sucky). This is NOT, you may be sure, a rule that applies to the cheaper coverage afforded state employees. Teachers would also lose coverage for weight-loss surgery.

This fix couldn't be simpler. Or harder.

School district employees are really state employees, too. Coverage for all state employees should be the same. Problem fixed. (A tip of the hat to Br'er Rapert, this once, for speaking some common sense on merging the plans.)

Oh, but it would cost money to equalize rates, or else pain to the cosseted state employees. This legislature won't do that (they're covered by the cheaper state employee plan themselves). Additional money is out of the question because the legislature has to protect the capital gains tax cut for millionaires, among others. Better to beggar the school districts.

The state also has to come up with some money to put criminals in jail at the special session. Maybe they could slap a special assessment on sheriff's offices to pay for it.


PS — I'd sure like to see the spread sheet of how these proposed givebacks by school districts work out district by district. The inequities are certain to be huge. Little Rock, which contributes a huge amount to its employees insurance coverage, seems likely to be a multi-million-dollar provider. Legislators would LOVE that, of course — taking Little Rock property tax receipts to cover miserly insurance elsewhere in the state. While they feel no pain on their sweetheart insurance coverage — as part-time employees, I might add.

UPDATE: I finally, late in the day, got an explanation on this. It is the takeback is only in the amount each district realizes from the uniform per-employee state contribution to health insurance, not the savings it gets in payroll taxes on its own contributions. The total taken from the districts is reportedly to be $4.5 million. It is still money from general expenditures, if not as much as I feared. The state's theory is that it is money it sends for health insurance and it's not unfair to capture any savings from it for that purpose.

PPS — Do charter schools that provide some insurance coverage have to give up some of their money, too?

UPDATE: A spokesman for the governor says that if charter school employees are in the system the takeback of payroll tax savings will be taken from them, too.

Tags: ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (25)

Showing 1-25 of 25

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-25 of 25

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016
  • Deputy killed, police chief wounded in Sebastian County. Suspect in custody

    40/29 TV reports that two law officers were shot about 7 a.m. today near Hackett in Sebastian County and at mid-afternoon came word that one of them had died. Later in the day a suspect was taken into custody in the shooting.
    • Aug 10, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation