In their Viewpoint (TNT, 3-21) state Sens. Steve Hobbs and Steve Litzow make several misleading assertions about school employees’ health care benefits. They state their bill (SB 6442.) will put “premiums in line with benefits and costs for all other state employees.”
Does this mean teachers and classified staff will receive $850 per month toward benefits like other state employees, rather than the $768 full-time school employees currently earn?
They also write that SB 6442 “maintains the rights of unions to negotiate … the hours an employee must work to be eligible for coverage.” What isn’t explained is the additional funding needed to cover part-time workers’ benefits would come from already dwindling local funds.
In University Place where I work, we’ve already endured nearly $2 million in lost revenue. How does forcing more costs onto districts make sense when the Legislature has for decades failed to fund schools?
They criticize “an inefficient, 50-year monopoly” of bargaining for our health care at the local level. How do they justify calling the free-market system of insurance companies competing for our business a monopoly?
There is frequent mention of the affordability of their plan, yet no mention of the $45 million price tag for start-up costs, and the addition of 38 new employees needed to manage this new state bureaucracy.
What is the real intent of SB 6442? It isn’t cost savings for educators or school districts. It is a power grab by the state Legislature to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees.