LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Legislature has started its special session to consider increasing funding for teacher insurance to lower rate hikes that are set to hit thousands next year.

The House and Senate convened Thursday afternoon at the state Capitol to take up several bills aimed at lowering the teacher premium increases, which would otherwise increase by as much as 50 percent next year.

The package of bills lawmakers are considering include a plan to set aside $43 million in surplus money this year and redirecting state funds in subsequent years to the teacher insurance program. The move is expected to lower the premium increases to 10 percent.

Lawmakers are also considering a proposal that would allow the state to reclaim excess property tax revenue from a handful of school districts.