Jennifer Shilling
Press Release

Another session of Republican inaction on student loan debt

Republicans still won’t take up plan to reduce monthly student debt payments

By - Feb 15th, 2016 01:50 pm

MADISON – With just days left in the current legislative session, Republican legislators have yet to put forward any substantive solutions to lower current student loan payments for the nearly one million student loan borrowers in Wisconsin. After cutting state investments in higher education by nearly $1 billion since taking office and leaving thousands of students on a waitlist for financial aid, Republicans continue to ignore the growing student loan debt crisis in Wisconsin.

“Unpaid internships and debt reminder letters won’t do anything to lower the $19 billion in student loans that Wisconsin borrowers owe,” said Senate Democratic leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “Democrats recognize the scope of this crisis and have a comprehensive plan to lower student loan debt payments. While Republicans continue to defend the Wall Street banks who profit off high interest rates, Democrats are committed to passing real relief for hardworking families.”

Legislative Republicans continue to block action on the Democrats’ Higher Ed, Lower Debt Bill which would provide immediate relief to Wisconsin’s one million student loan borrowers. The proposal would target tax relief to student loan borrowers and allow families to refinance their student loans. Minnesota recently launched a similar student loan refinancing effort which is estimated to save an average borrower thousands of dollars in lower interest payments.

“Historic budget cuts, the underfunding of financial aid and Wisconsin’s lagging economy have increased the student loan debt burden for graduates and families,” added Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha). “In today’s 21st century knowledge-based global economy, it’s more important than ever to prioritize making higher education affordable. It’s time for legislative Republicans to stop playing make believe when it comes to Wisconsin’s $19 billion student loan debt crisis. Rather than cutting more money from our colleges and universities, we should be investing in higher education and making it easier for workers to get the training they need.”

A recent report found that Wisconsin is third-worst in the nation in the percentage of residents with student loan debt, yet Republicans have not provided any meaningful leadership or relief. The Assembly is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a package of Republican bills that do nothing to lower monthly loan payments for the one million Wisconsin residents straddled with student loan debt.

By Senator Jennifer Shilling and Representative Peter Barca

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