College to lose $1.4M to cover health coverage

Staff report, Orange Grove Journal

Gov. Rick Perry signed the two-year state budget into law last Friday, slashing $155 million in public community college funding.

Vetoing that part of the budget is of concern to college officials.

The largest chunk of the cut, $154 million, is applied to group health insurance coverage for college faculty and administrators.

"The governor vetoed the second year of the community college appropriation designated for health insurance premiums for eligible community college employees. The veto included $1.4 million for Coastal Bend College employees," CBC President Dr. John Brockman explained. "While the state will not provide funding for the second year of health insurance premiums, community colleges are mandated to maintain the same level of insurance coverage equal to that provided to state employees."

To make up the loss of $1,497,422 in 2008-2009, Coastal Bend College can increase tuition and fees, increase taxes or reduce spending in other areas.

The local tax rate is slightly above average for state community colleges; rates of tuition are also slightly above average, and the rate of out-of-district fee charges is significantly above the average for the state, Brockman said.

"Raising tuition or fees at this juncture would be counter productive with regard to increasing revenue because enrollment would be adversely impacted," he said.

The college will continue to participate in the ERS BlueCross/BlueShield program.

Brockman said college employees, active and retired, should not be concerned about their insurance coverage.