Gov. Mike Beebe issued a call Wednesday to bring the Arkansas General Assembly into session to address the large health insurance rate increase facing the Public School Employee Plan. The special session will begin Thursday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., and should conclude by the end of the day on Saturday. 

“I would not be issuing this call if we hadn’t already seen extraordinary bipartisan efforts to help our teachers and other public-school employees in Arkansas,” Governor Beebe said. “After dozens of meetings with legislators, district officials, teachers and other involved parties, we have a solution that may not please every individual group, but will help alleviate the spike in insurance rates and shore up this insurance program.”

The call includes bills that will, if approved:

Provide $43 million in one-time surplus funds to reduce the 2014 rate increase from 50 percent to 10 percent.

Redirect future savings from the Educational Facilities Partnership Fund to provide long-term relief to the plan.

Modify the requirements for Teacher Professional Development to provide long-term relief to the plan.

Establish a task force to study and revise the Public School Employees Plan for future sustainability.

Clarify the distribution of State revenue generated by the Uniform Rate of Tax, as advised by the Arkansas Supreme Court, and direct some of that revenue to the Educational Facilities Partnership Fund.