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Benefits Director Warns Arkansas Employee Insurance Faces Deficit In 2024

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POTENTIAL DEFICITS? -  The director of the Arkansas State Employee Benefits Division has warned of future budget shortfalls for state employee insurance plans. Jake Bleed director of employee benefits discussed a quarterly report last week with Members of the newly-created Employee Benefits Division Oversight Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council.

“Our surplus for 2022 is $63 million, for 2023 we’re tracking at a $25 million surplus. That’s very, very positive. From there we start running a deficit in ’24, and in ’25 and in ’26,” Bleed explained,

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Courtesy: Arkansas Legislative Video Archive
Jake Bleed is director of the Employee Benefits Division of the Arkansas Department of Transformation and Shared Services

Bleed credited fund transfers from other state government departments and new dollars from the American Rescue Plan for the program’s current financial stability. Despite that, he said rising healthcare costs and other factors could see the program facing a $334 million budget deficit by 2032. Bleed stressed lawmakers should act proactively, since budget approval by lawmakers happens about 14 months before the start of the new fiscal year.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.