Congressman Peter Welch campaigned with Debbie in her 2012 bid for the State Senate.
Here's the latest scoop on teachers' health care contracts and savings on property taxes:
The situation as of May 12, 2017 with the teachers' health contracts is that the Senate has passed a proposal that:
-- guarantees the savings to the Ed Fund that the Governor originally asked for (you may have heard the figure $26 million, but it's $13 million in Fiscal Year 2018, because the fiscal year and health care contract year overlap for only 6 months)
-- ensures this $13 million goes toward lowering everyone's statewide property taxes
-- accomplishes this savings by giving guidance to the school boards about what the teachers' health care contracts should look like (but NOT by dictating to the school boards or by interfering in the collective bargaining rights of the teachers' union)
-- urges retaining the same standards, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses as teachers' current health care plans have.
Our proposal also sets up a Commission made up of representatives from the teachers' unions, school boards, and superintendents to meet together and discuss possible actions moving forward to restructure the way teachers' contracts overall, and not just health care, are handled in future. This may mean substantial change, minor change, or no change at all.
The Commission will make recommendations to the Legislature by Nov. 1, 2017, in time for us to put draft legislation on the table during the second year of our biennium, and in time for us to follow our usual thorough committee process to carefully consider, from all sides, the possibilities of change.
Despite our best efforts, we have not gotten concurrence from the Governor about whether this idea is acceptable to him. We expect to be working with the House next week to iron out any differences we might have with them.
It is disappointing to us that we have not gotten more cooperation from the Governor; all he has told us is that he will veto our budget (passed unanimously in the Senate and with only one vote of dissent in the House) if we do not include some kind of revision to the teachers' health care contracts. We have made a proposal that does so, and yet he continues to be unresponsive to our proposal and intractable by not offering his own counter-proposal.
We are doing our best to offer property tax relief, protect the rights of labor unions, and honor the local control of school boards. When the Governor is ready to work with us, we can come to a resolution.