LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - According to Governor Mike Beebe, the state legislature is at a standstill regarding teacher health insurance. There are just 15 days left for the state to boost funding for the program. Without it, insurance rates for teachers will double on January 1.
Beebe said he won't call a special session to discuss the increases until there is enough legislative support to pass the proposed bills. He said a special session could last for weeks and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. So before calling one, it's important to ensure support.
The House has 77 of 75 required votes, but a lack of votes in the Senate is holding things up. It's a few votes short of the required three-fourths vote.
Beebe said rushing a decision isn't ideal, but since the insurance hikes take effect January 1, there's no other option.
"You've got a Nov. 1 sign up date, and they've got to have materials printed so that they can send to the public school employees so that they can make a choice," Beebe said.
Lawmakers have to make a decision on whether or not to use $43 million from the state surplus. That money would lower premium increases to 10 percent.
"This is going to take effect Jan 1, and if they do nothing, it's going to take effect January 1 according to the current schedule, which is a huge rate increase that most people are trying to avoid but it takes a three-fourths vote," Beebe said.
The governor remains hopeful that Senate will continue to inch its way toward a three-fourths majority.