The crisis in the public school employee insurance system is complicated. The politics behind it are complicated. The solutions just passed by the legislature to once again shore up the troubled fund — those are complicated, too. But the underlying reason behind the fund’s insolvency is simple: The public isn’t paying enough for its share of school employees’ insurance. According to University of Arkansas researchers, the typical public school teacher in Arkansas pays 65 to 70 percent of his or her premium for family coverage. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that an average public school teacher in the U.S. pays for about 34 percent of his or her health insurance premium for family coverage.
“Global warming is not American warming,” Tom Cotton told the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce on July 2. “It’s not Arkansas warming. If we disadvantage manufacturers here in the United States, what are they going to do? They’re not going to shut down business. They may shut it down here in the United States, but they’re going to send it to other countries like China or India where they have lower pollution controls than we have here. This legislation [proposed EPA rules limiting carbon emissions] is going to drive up the cost of doing business in the United States.” In other words, if China won’t do anything, we won’t do anything. That’s being a responsible citizen of God’s green earth, isn’t it?
Last year, the Arkansas Claims Commission voted unanimously to award Gyronne Buckley $460,000 for spending 11 years in prison on wrongful convictions. On July 8, a legislative panel reversed and dismissed the commission’s award. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel went before the panel to argue that Buckley had not been harmed and paying him would set a bad precedent.
Buckley originally got a life sentence in Clark County for supposedly selling $40 in crack to an informant in 1999. He had no prior criminal record. The informant was testifying to get out of a charge of his own. The state fought for years to keep from revealing evidence, a videotape, useful to Buckley’s defense. It showed the informant’s poor recollection of events. A federal judge found 38 places that the informant’s testimony could be impeached. Want to see a bad precedent? Here’s one: no consequences when the state puts a first offender in jail for 11 years for a drug deal based on a dubious witness protected from exposure by investigators and prosecutors.