On Thursday, June 17th, current and retired educators joined a state lawmaker in calling on the Arkansas Legislative Council to reject massive health insurance rate hikes on public school employees. Please see the coverage below.
From the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: The Arkansas Education Association’s executive director on Thursday called on lawmakers to tap $70 million of the state’s general revenue surplus to shore up the public school health insurance plan so as not to increase the costs to employees and retirees next year. Read the full story HERE.
From KATV: “The current proposal to cost more, cover less and will place the expensive burden on educators and make the plan worse,” said Arkansas Education Association Executive Director, Tracey-Ann Nelson.
Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, a former educator, is calling on her colleagues to look at the state’s $1 billion dollar surplus and allocate all $70 million to cover the shortfall.
“When we convene in September or whenever it is, we ought to be thinking about things like this,” she said. “Then, if there if money left over, let’s talk about a tax break.”
(Hope Teacher Hosea) Born agrees with Elliott’s statements. “So I’m asking Arkansas legislators not just to invest in educators but to invest in the future. We have to do something. We have to show our people that we care, and this is the least that we can do right now,” he says. Watch more HERE.
From 5 News: Tamara Long is a paraprofessional at Huntsville Middle School and says the fact the state pays less and less every year hurts. She says they were at work every day during the pandemic.
“Everyone stepped up to work, and some of us against doctors’ orders, that would be me, and I know there is other staff that did that as well. So we stepped up, we worked, we did it for the kids, and it would just be nice if the state would show us a little bit of appreciation for that,” she said. Watch more HERE.
From KARK: Hosea Born is a teacher in the Hope School District and he said it feels like the state is looking for the straw to break the camel’s back.
“We’re talking about anywhere from 15 to 20% increase that is $70 a month for individuals,” Born said.
State Board of Finance discuss Public School Employee Insurance plan
He also said it could be hard to recruit and retain teachers in some districts because many of the raises that have been approved by the Legislature will be going to pay for potential increases.
“It’s hard to step back and say like why am I here and it goes back to we’re here for the kids but at some point, we’re going to see the teacher crisis continue,” Born said. Watch more HERE.
From the Arkansas Times: “While we don’t yet know what the board members will recommend, they are seeking an additional $35 million from the General Assembly, which falls well short of the needed $70 million. This will likely result in shifting the remaining shortfall onto the backs of educators,” Arkansas Education Association Executive Director Tracey-Ann Nelson said. She and other educators’ advocates say we should look to the state surplus for the rest. Read more HERE.