Sen. Shapleigh Files Bill to Fund
Teachers Health Insurance
AUSTIN - El Paso Sen. Eliot Shapleigh on Thursday, January 25, 2001, announced the filing of Senate Bill (SB) 389, designed to fund insurance coverage for every teacher, school employee and retiree.
SB 389 would provide benefits comparable to those state employees receive. Shapleigh said his plan would provide educators with better insurance for less money. Under SB 389, individual coverage would be provided without charge, with dependent coverage at one-half of cost.
According to figures released by Shapleigh's office, 43 percent of teachers are considering leaving the profession, citing low pay and poor benefits. And 42 percent of teachers work second jobs.
"Texans consistently rank education as their No. 1 issue," Shapleigh said. "Today, we need to decide just how much we value education. If we want our kids to be first, we need to keep our best teachers in the classroom."
Representatives from Texas Classroom Teachers Association, the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas Association of Professional Educators endorsed Shapleigh's plan.
Shapleigh said the bulk of the funding for the $3 billion plan would have no impact on Texas' General Revenue. The bill calls for money already earmarked for education to be redirected toward insurance, leaving $100 million, or 10 percent of the expected budget surplus, to come from General Revenue funds.
Also on Thursday, Amarillo Senator Teel Bivins announced that he was filing Senate Bill (SB) 385. The bill is designed to better prepare Texas high school students for college and the modern workplace by making the college preparatory curriculum the standard in all Texas high schools by 2004.
The Texas Senate stands adjourned until 1 p.m. Monday, January 29, 2001.