Kavulich, House Democratic Policy Committee assess proposed Public School Employees Benefit Board

LACKAWANNA, April 9 – State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, D-Lackawanna, today hosted a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of implementing a statewide public school employee benefit program.  

Kavulich held the hearing alongside Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, at the Dickson City Borough Building. Legislators and testifiers discussed Kavulich’s House Bill 348, a bipartisan collaboration between Kavulich and state Rep. Bernie O’Neill, R-Bucks, which would establish the Public School Employees Benefit Board.

The board would be comprised of 20 members representing school employees, school boards, the legislature and the administration. Board members would then examine whether to pursue a statewide public school health care benefits program or if consolidating plans regionally would be more beneficial.  

"State education funding has declined over the past four years and health care costs continue to rise. Teachers deserve quality health care as a provision of employment; it shouldn’t be negotiable. At a time when school districts across the state are struggling financially, this proposal provides a meaningful solution to the problem and would allow contract negotiations to focus on academic related issues, without placing a further burden on taxpayers," Kavulich said.

"I commend Rep. Kavulich for introducing a bipartisan proposal that offers an approach to reduce costs for school districts in these challenging fiscal times," Sturla said.

Those testifying at the hearing were: Brian Rinaldi, business manager at Old Forge School District; Ron Koldjeski, deputy director of the Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau; and Joseph Surridge, business manager at Riverside School District.