State approves money to help fund teacher health plans |

State approves money to help fund teacher health plans

The Board of Examiners on Tuesday approved a one-time appropriation set up by the Legislature to help school districts pay for rising costs of employee health insurance.

The cost of health plan premiums has been rising in double digits almost every year.

The 2003 Legislature appropriated $5.8 million to help districts incurring unexpected increases in health insurance during the two-year budget cycle. Gov. Kenny Guinn said the increase is in addition to the estimated $40 million his administration and lawmakers included in the public schools budgets for health care programs.

Technically, the money was already allotted to the school districts. The board approved the policies and procedures for granting it to the districts.

The board, consisting of Guinn, Secretary of State Dean Heller and Attorney General Brian Sandoval, was told the money will not help the school districts with the added cost of taking back their retirees now covered by the state health plan. For years, many school districts provided no health benefits for retirees — leaving them to join the state plan. The 2003 Legislature changed that arguing local districts and local governments should be responsible for their own retirees.

But no money was planned in those school district budgets to pay the cost of helping subsidize retiree benefits. Director of Administration Perry Comeaux said school districts estimate that will cost them $3.7 million this fiscal year and more than $5 million next fiscal year.

“There’s no money provided for that at all,” Comeaux said.

He said he expects school districts to ask the state for help with those costs.

In addition, the board voted to:

– Approve doubling the lease payment for the state motor pool facility at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. State Lands Administrator Pam Wilcox said the Federal Aviation Administration told the airport it could no longer give the state a special break on that lease, that the state must pay fair-market value.

The cost doubles to $98,000 a year. Wilcox said the state is looking for another site for the motor pool south of the airport when the lease ends Dec. 31, 2005.

– Approve payment of a contract between the UNR medical school and the state division of Mental Health and Disabled Services. The contract was held up at the last board meeting after members questioned why the school provided psychiatric services to the division without a contract and then billed the state for $778,000 a year later. They were told procedures and policies have been changed so it won’t happen again and that the psychiatrists are now working directly for MHDS instead of the medical school.