For the third time in four years, Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed legislation that would have established a statewide insurance pool for teachers and school employees.
Sponsored by Rep. Larry Hosch (DFL-St. Joseph) and Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls), the bill would have required all school districts that are not self-insured to purchase health coverage through a state-run insurance program.
In his May 10 veto message, Pawlenty wrote that the bill would not address the underlying factors that are driving up the cost of health care in Minnesota. He also faulted Education Minnesota, the teachers’ union that supports the bill, for not being amenable to the governor’s education reform proposals.
“I offered to more favorably consider this bill if the teachers’ union and legislators would pass bold reform initiatives,” Pawlenty wrote.
Speaking on the House floor May 6, Hosch argued the plan would help keep health care costs down for schools, allowing them to put more money into classrooms. He said the bill could save school districts $1 billion over 10 years.
“If we can save $1 billion for our local school districts … we are doing better for our children; we are doing better for our local school districts; and, yes, we are doing better for all school employees,” Hosch said.
Opponents said it’s unclear what the fiscal impact would be on individual school districts. Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R-St. Cloud) said the plan would benefit some school districts over others.
“The larger school districts will pay more in their health insurance by doing this because they’re going to take on unhealthier people in other districts,” Gottwalt said.
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