Lawson lauds $14M union insurance plan settlement

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

School districts across the state are set to receive $14 million under a settlement finalized Tuesday between the state's largest teachers union and the secretary of state's office.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson lauded the agreement, which would end a four-year legal battle with Indiana's largest teachers union. But the Indiana State Teachers Association accused the Republican official of playing politics as she heads into an election year.

The money will be split among the 27 school districts which had invested in the ISTA health insurance plan that collapsed in 2009. Lawson called settlement of the lawsuit, which was filed in 2009 by then-Secretary of State Todd Rokita, a win for schools. But Brenda Pike, the ISTA's executive director, said the schools would have had that money four years ago if Rokita had not stalled the delivery through a lawsuit.

The parties first agreed on the terms of the settlement in August and it took until now for each school district to approve the settlement. The state is now waiting on ISTA to deliver the money for distribution, which Pike said will happen soon.

Each school district would be left to decide how the money should be used. Crown Point School Corp. would get $3 million, Southwest School Corp. in Sullivan County is would get $1.3 million, Marion Community Schools would receive $1.1 million, and the other 24 schools would receive the remainder. Each school district would get roughly half of what it lost.

On Tuesday, Lawson repeated many of the allegations laid out in the lawsuit, claiming that ISTA leadership purposefully fooled investors as part of a scheme to funnel money to an underfunded long-term disability plan.

"What makes this case particularly disturbing is how ISTA blatantly lied to participating school corporations by sending them phony financial statements," Lawson said.

If state officials were still unhappy with the settlement, they did not say it during the negotiations, Pike said. The state ended up paying $1.5 million to the Indianapolis law firm Frost Brown Todd for outside representation in the lawsuit, Lawson said.

"It's politically motivated; it's political rhetoric. There's no missing the fact that next year will be an election year," said Brenda Pike, ISTA's executive director. Lawson is running for a full term as secretary of state and will square off against an as-yet determined Democratic candidate.

Pike noted that the $14 million is an amount equal to what the union was able to recoup through its own settlements with investors and others they say caused the plan's collapse. ISTA would have returned the money to schools earlier but were blocked by the lawsuit, she said.

Some Indiana Republicans have said Democratic School Superintendent Glenda Ritz, who served on the ISTA board when the fund collapsed, should be held responsible for the lost money. But Lawson declined to comment on the issue.

The collapse of the union health insurance plan, and subsequent weakening of the teachers union, was a key factor in the decision by a handful of Republican powerbrokers to charge ahead with a sweeping education agenda in 2011.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

  2. $3B would hurt Lilly's bottom line if there were no insurance or Indemnity Agreement, but there is no way that large an award will be upheld on appeal. What's surprising is that the trial judge refused to reduce it. She must have thought there was evidence of a flagrant, unconscionable coverup and wanted to send a message.

  3. As a self-employed individual, I always saw outrageous price increases every year in a health insurance plan with preexisting condition costs -- something most employed groups never had to worry about. With spouse, I saw ALL Indiana "free market answer" plans' premiums raise 25%-45% each year.

  4. It's not who you chose to build it's how they build it. Architects and engineers decide how and what to use to build. builders just do the work. Architects & engineers still think the tarp over the escalators out at airport will hold for third time when it snows, ice storms.

  5. http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/duke-energy-customers-angry-about-money-for-nothing