LITTLE ROCK — The sponsor of a plan to allow Arkansas to withhold excess property-tax revenue from a handful of school districts says the issue is effectively dead for the special session.
Democratic Sen. Bruce Maloch of Magnolia said Friday that he didn't plan to bring up the proposal before the Senate after an identical bill was tabled by a House committee.
Also Friday, the House and Senate approved measures to use $43 million in general state funds as a way to keep teacher health insurance rates from spiking in the near-term.
"Basically, this is funding that will be used as a bridge to finding a permanent solution to the teacher health insurance problem," Rep. Duncan Baird told House members before they voted 87-6 in favor of the bill.
The House and Senate will have to approve the other chamber's bills in a final vote.
The House also approved bills to reduce required teacher development hours from 60 a year to 36 to save money that will be used for health insurance and to divert money from facilities funding and supplemental millage incentive funding toward the the teacher insurance fund.
On the Senate side, Maloch said he believed there was enough support to get his property tax bill out of that chamber but not the House.
His plan would have allowed the state to keep excess property-tax revenue from districts where higher property-tax collections pushed the districts above total school funding levels set by state law. It would also phase out the excess revenue from eight districts where collections are currently above that funding level.
The Senate convened shortly after 10 a.m., meeting for about a half an hour without considering Maloch's bill. The bill was left on the calendar, however, and both the Senate and House were scheduled to reconvene at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Friday marked the second day of a special session called to address the teacher insurance premiums. Gov. Mike Beebe called the session after he was assured by legislative leaders there were enough votes to pass the measures.
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more details.
Arkansas Online reporter Gavin Lesnick contributed to this report.