‘It’s a complicated issue:’ Lawmaker reflects on demise of teacher insurance bill

Rep. Rod Furniss spent much of the 2021 session trying to untangle an old issue: helping teachers get on the state’s health insurance plan.

On March 15, days before the Legislature went into a coronavirus-caused recess, the Rigby Republican’s bill died in the Senate Education Committee. Senators said they had too many unanswered questions about the proposal, which had passed the House on a 54-15 vote.

Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby

In a recent interview with Sally Krutzig of the Post Register, Furniss said the problem isn’t going away. And he suggested some Senate Education members didn’t fully understand the details of the bill.

“It’s a complicated issue. It has many moving parts; I just think they really didn’t understand it,” Furniss told Krutzig. “I have had legislators tell me this is the closest we’ve ever gotten to solving this problem over the many years that they’ve been there.”

Furniss’ proposal centered on allowing school districts to siphon state money for teacher salaries to cover the insurance costs. Supporters said the plan would be a net gain for teachers, Krutzig reported, since their insurance costs would drop and their take-home pay would increase.

Others were skeptical about the proposal, since it would divert hard-fought funding away from the state’s teacher salary plan, the career ladder.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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