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Minnesota State Rep. Erin Murphy: A double whammy for teachers and property taxes

Three years ago, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill I authored that ensures school districts and their employees can get health coverage at the best price possible by increasing competition and transparency in the insurance bidding process.

Now, Minnesota Republicans want to take it all away with HF 1558.

Thanks to the changes we put in place, school districts must now get a bid from the Public Employee Insurance Program when shopping for insurance. When other health plans were getting prohibitively expensive, PEIP's rates grew at an average of only 2.6 percent per renewal.

That meant private health insurance plans had to drive down their costs to compete with PEIP, and school districts always had at least one affordable option for their employees' insurance.

But it was never just about helping teachers. When school districts pay more for health insurance, they have to raise Herald readers' property taxes to pay for it.

This is especially true for rural taxpayers. Of the 83 districts that use PEIP, 81 are located in rural Minnesota. It's been a win-win for teachers and property taxpayers alike in every corner of the state.

Suffice it to say I'm frustrated that Republicans would attack this smart policy. But I won't let it go down without a fight. If Republicans have their way, teachers will pay more for health care, and Minnesotans will pay more in property taxes. It's a double whammy hard-working Minnesotans can't afford.

Erin Murphy

St. Paul

Murphy, a Democrat, represents District 64A in the Minnesota House.