Statement on Vermont Educational Health Benefits Commission Recommendation Supporting Governor Scott’s Proposal for a Statewide Health Benefit
Montpelier, Vt. – In April, Governor Phil Scott presented a proposal for a statewide health benefit for school employees designed to save taxpayers up to $26 million a year while investing nearly $50 million to keep school employees out-of-pocket healthcare costs level. This proposal would have also introduced equity and sustainability in healthcare coverage for school employees across all districts, and simplified negotiations for school board members.
An agreement was reached with the Legislature as a result of the Governor’s budget veto, which saved millions of dollars for taxpayers and created the Vermont Educational Health Benefits Commission (VEHBC) to study the feasibility of a statewide health benefit for school employees.
The Commission was comprised of appointees of Gov. Scott, Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden), House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero), the Vermont School Boards Association, the Vermont Superintends Association and two appointees from unions representing teachers and school employee staff. The commissioners of the departments of tax and financial regulation also served on the VEHBC.
This week, the Commission voted 6-3 to recommend a statewide health benefit. A statement from Governor Scott follows:
“I am pleased a clear majority of the Commission agreed that negotiations for school employee healthcare benefits should be done statewide to create equity and consistency. I thank the Commission members for their hard work and service to Vermonters.
“Statewide negotiations will save taxpayers money, provide more equality to teachers regardless of their district and provide more predictable health insurance rates. Consistency and predictability will help stabilize the pressure school health benefits put on school budgets and property taxes.
“This is an important step forward in our work to make the education system more affordable – so we can invest more in our kids – and I’m hopeful this report will inspire legislative leaders to support this change. Doing so will help ensure greater long-term savings. Had we made this change last year, we would not be facing as steep a challenge to protect Vermonters from a property tax increase.
“My Administration remains committed to preventing taxes and fees, including property taxes, from increasing again this year. I look forward to working with the Legislature to implement the Commission’s recommendations.”