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

Speaking of State Teacher Insurance, special Legislative Session

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…

Most Shared

  • Raw feelings in the Arkansas Justice Building over workload, pay

    Strained relations between the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Arkansas Court of Appeals broke into public view this week. I expect more to come.
  • Denny Altes resigns as state drug czar

    Former legislator Denny Altes of Fort Smith, appointed state drug prevention director by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in May 2015, resigned today effective July 1.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Most Viewed

  • Camera catches racist rant in NWA Walmart

    A Facebook video that catches an ugly rant against a Latina woman and a black person in a Walmart in Centerton, Ark., has gone viral. Note that a Walmart manager in the video takes the side of those berated and the company said it doesn't condone such.
  • A modern mercantile for downtown

    The storefront at the corner of Clinton, Cantrell, Markham and Cumberland (can there be any other intersection anywhere like it?) has brown paper covering the windows and a sign saying LEASED, so we asked Moses Tucker realtor John Martin what gives.
  • Feds announce 61 named in 18-month Little Rock drug investigation

    The U.S. attorney's office announced today that a joint operation with local law enforcement had led this morning to arrests in the indictment of dozens of drug and gun dealers in the Little Rock area, the culmination of an 18-month investigation.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

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