Who wouldn't want to save $26 million? (Front Porch Forum Issue No. 2767 May 10, 2017 )

I submitted a commentary on this topic that will be published in The Citizen this week and on my website (www.MikeYantachka.com).  However, I would like to add a few more thoughts here for your consideration since I have received many emails on the subject.

Sound bites are very simplistic. "Save the taxpayers $26M!"  Very easy to say, but another saying that applies is that "the devil is in the details."  The Governor's proposal relates to a change happening to teacher health plans throughout the State. This change is not dependent upon, nor due to the Governor in any way. It is the result of a redesign of the teachers' health plans by VEHI that offerss two high deductible and two regular plans that teachers may choose from, and that have lower premiums than the current plans.

The new plans are cheaper because they are less generous plans. The statewide savings estimate is $75 million. Of that, $48 million is anticipated to be needed to pay for the increased copay and deductible costs in the new plan. The remainder, if you believe the estimates, would be the $26 million which the Governor keeps talking about.

The Governor's plan, as embodied in the Beck amendment to H.509, was to return $8 million of the $26 million to property tax payers and to use the other 70% for other purposes, namely the General Fund and to cover the transfer of the liability for the state portion of current teacher retirement obligations to the Education Fund.  This transfer would lead to higher property taxes in the long run.
The issue of statewide bargaining has no impact on whether the savings occur.

What the House passed instead, the Webb amendment, was a provision that makes no change in bargaining, but directs 100% of the savings that actually occur in teacher healthcare to be returned directly to local communities in the form of reduced property taxes.  The money saved would be returned to a local school district only after a budget was voted upon and approved. It can go to only one place, and that is to directly reduce property taxes. All of the savings, rather than just the 30% in the Governor’s plan would come back to your property taxes. This is what property taxpayers want, and why I voted against the Beck amendment and for the Webb amendment.