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Panel approves rate increase for school employees’ insurance

BLR at committee meeting, edited.jpg
Ronak Patel
Elizabeth Bynum (left) and Julie Holt, who are both from the Bureau of Legislative Research, presented the Adequacy Study to the joint Arkansas House and Senate Committee on Education on Monday. The study is done to determine whether funding for education in the state is equitable.

Arkansas lawmakers have unanimously approved a motion to direct school districts to increase the amount they paid into public school employees’ health insurance program.

During a joint meeting of the Arkansas House and Senate Committee on Education on Monday, state Secretary of Education Johnny Key urged members to approve the motion.

Currently, school districts are required to pay $150 per employee into their health insurance plans, according to the Legislature's website. Beginning Jan. 1, the rate will double to $300, due to the passage of Act 111, which was approved in this year’s fiscal session.

Sen. Missy Irvin, a Republican from Mountain View, told colleagues approval of the motion wouldn’t be creating new legislation.

“We have already passed this policy, it is already in the budget, schools will have it. We just need to direct the schools to pass up that funding mechanism for those public school employees and their health benefits back to the state so that we can fully operate that plan,” Irvin told lawmakers before the vote.

She said the increase to $300 per employee was a recommendation from the Segal Group, a human resources consulting firm in New York.

The motion approved by lawmakers also allowed the committee to adjust the Adequacy Study done in 2020 to account for the new rate that schools will pay into the health insurance program.

The Adequacy Study is required by the House and Senate Education Committees to determine whether students receive equal opportunity for an adequate education, according to the Arkansas House of Representatives’ website.