Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the 2016 state budget without his proposed cuts to health insurance benefits for part-time school employees, including bus drivers.

Deal eventually agreed to the legislature’s decision to keep state health insurance coverage for part-time school bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and paraprofessionals, Atlanta Business Chronicle reported.

Deal signed the budget on May 11 for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1.

As previously reported, the governor’s original budget called for eliminating coverage for about 11,500 part-time school workers.

However, school districts will now have to increase the share they pay for their part-time employees’ health insurance to nearly $103 million, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The expected extra amount of money that school systems would have to pay to cover health insurance for each affected employee would be about $150 per month, said Garry Puetz, president of the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation (GAPT).

GAPT recommended the increase be held to $75 per member per month for school year 2015, until the committee studying the State Health Benefit Plan announces its findings, Puetz added.

“We appreciate the legislators’ support of school bus drivers and their recognition that school bus drivers are an integral and important part of the educational process for 1 million Georgia children twice each school day,” Puetz said. “We hope that they will continue to show that support by providing the resources we need to protect 100% of our Georgia schoolchildren, 100% of the time.”

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