Members of the Arkansas Legislative Council signed off on allocating $35 million of the state’s general fund to help offset significant increases in insurance costs for public school educators.
Members voted up the allocation without any fanfare or discussion, and if you were distracted by Rep. David Whitaker’s (D-Fayetteville) excellent fashion choice, you might have missed the vote completely.
While a green light on using general funds is good news for teachers, they’re still in the hole. Even with the $35 million from today, the public school employee insurance program still faces an estimated $38.5 million shortfall. The Arkansas State Board of Finance will hold a special meeting Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. to consider solutions. Governor Hutchinson has said he’s confident the board can work out a plan to keep teachers from having to shoulder the higher costs.
Members and supporters of the Arkansas Education Association are advocating for a plan to use some of the state’s record-setting $980 million surplus to keep teachers from having to pay higher rates come 2022.