By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press
FRANKFORT - A statewide teachers organization voted to call off a threatened strike Tuesday night, hours after the General Assembly met the group's 2005 state health insurance demands.
Kentucky Education Association officials, meeting in Frankfort, voted unanimously to rescind their call for a statewide teachers' strike Oct. 27 - less than a week before the November election.
"We have made history," KEA president Frances Steenbergen said after the decision.
Teachers and other school workers in Northern Kentucky and across the state protested Sept. 27 over Gov. Ernie Fletcher's health plan.
The workers, concerned about deductibles, premiums, prescription-drug costs and other out-of-pocket expenses, had marches and rallies.
Lawmakers ended their special session by sending the governor a health insurance plan that sweetens state health benefits for about 229,000 active and retired public school employees and state workers.
Fletcher, who was traveling at the time the bill passed, signed the bill into law when he returned to the Capitol shortly after 10 p.m., spokesman Doug Hogan said.
Among other things, the plan - which both the Senate and House gave final approval Tuesday - lowers premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for people covered by the state plan. Employee premiums would be standardized across the state.
The plan - estimated to cost the state about $172 million from its general fund - also approved a change that would lock in $2.4 billion in basic school funding known as Support Education Excellence in Kentucky, or SEEK funding for state schools.
Enquirer reporter Mike Rutledge contributed.
Ohio Poll shows race tightening once again
Thousands of new-voter cards in Ohio undeliverable
Cheney too busy chatting to try Cincinnati chili
'The Hug' becomes a TV ad for Bush
Complaint to be filed on Issue 3 signs
Bunning fails to show up for his debate vs. Mongiardo
Mongiardo campaign gets cash infusion
Fletcher stumps to boost Hayden
State vigilant on vote fraud
Teachers call off walkout
Deluge for a day: Only 11 have been wetter here
Mason senior wrestler dies in two-vehicle wreck on I-75
ABC-TV anchor turns camera on Cincinnati
IN THE TRISTATE
Black journalists' group honors veterans and students
Mother, son killed in crash of van, semi
People line up for flu shots
Former judge sentenced to 10 days on sex charge
Dad captured in Ohio after Amber alert
At moment of capture, robber showed pride
Local news briefs
Wildlife group: Cut mercury emissions
Neighbors news briefs
Gunman killed in standoff with cops
Bengals QB wins hearts of pupils
Public safety briefs
Soldier brings Iraq war back home
He remembers the 'ups' and forgets the 'downs'
Higher Ed on way to Warren
Message to senator: Road help needed
St. William lab dedicated today
Emma H. Kohl, 93, aviation pioneer
Dodgeball grows up
Lawmakers pass Ky. health plan
Government finally has a home of its own
Ruling rejects UK police report policy
N. Ky. news briefs
Runaway used tires land in Boone creek
Bellevue condos to merit name