The Arkansas House and Senate education committees on Monday formally approved the new rate that school districts will pay into the public school employees' health insurance program starting in 2023.
During the fiscal session that ended March 18, lawmakers passed Act 111, which requires school districts to pay the health insurance contribution rate established by the House and Senate education committees through the biennial adequacy review process for each eligible employee electing to participate in the public school employee health insurance plan beginning Jan. 1, 2023.
Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key said Monday that the new rate will be $300 per participating member per month, which is funded in the state budget lawmakers approved during the fiscal session. The contribution rate is now set at $150 per participating member per month, according to current state law.
In their review every two years, the committees will have the ability to determine if the amount needs to change based on information from the state's Employee Benefits Division.
Act 111 also increases the per-pupil funding amount for school districts from $7,349 to $7,413.
House Education Committee Chair Rep. Bruce Cozart, R-Hot Springs, made the motion to approve the recommendations from the Department of Education and to adopt the change as an addendum to adequacy recommendations that the committees approved in 2020. The motion was approved unanimously Monday.
The education committees' biennial adequacy review of school funding was put in place by a 2003 study that followed the Arkansas Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee, which deemed the state's school-funding model unconstitutional.