(Oklahoma City) Legislative leaders have created a special committee charged with improving health benefits for Oklahoma public school teachers and their families.
Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor and House Speaker Larry Adair announced appointments to the panel today, saying they are hopeful that the group will be able to find a way to make health insurance more affordable for teachers and their dependents.
"Historically, Oklahoma hasn't done a good job of compensating its teachers, whether it's with a paycheck or a benefits package. With health insurance rates rising across the board nationally, I think it's important that we explore any and all options for increasing the amount of coverage that we provide teachers," said Senator Taylor (D-Claremore).
"Oklahoma's teachers need our help with increasing health insurance and medical costs. This bipartisan committee has been formed to study the issue in preparation for action when the Legislature convenes and it is our hope that we can resolve this issue," said Speaker Adair (D-Stilwell).
Currently, the state and local school districts team up to pay approximately half the cost of teachers' health insurance. The state's share is 33 percent; local districts are required to pay no less than 17 percent. Individual teachers pick up the rest of the tab.
Legislative leaders have asked the committee to draft recommendations designed to make health insurance more affordable for teachers. Those proposals will be submitted to the Legislature for consideration during the 2002 session that convenes in February.
Senate appointees to the panel include Sen. Cal Hobson (D-Lexington), Sen. Mike Morgan (D-Stillwater), Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield (D-Ardmore), Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson (R-Oklahoma City) and Sen. Mike Johnson (R-Kingfisher).
House members are Rep. Jack Bonny (D-Burns Flat), Rep. Kenneth Corn (D-Howe), Rep. Opio Toure (D-Oklahoma City), Rep. Larry Ferguson (R-Cleveland) and Rep. Susan Winchester (R-Chickasha).