State Sen. Jennifer Shilling
Press Release

Dems rebuffed by Gov. Walker on student loan debt

Governor refuses bipartisan effort on student loan refinancing

By - Jan 11th, 2016 11:12 am

MADISON – Efforts to pass student loan debt relief hit another Republican roadblock after Gov. Walker refused to meet with Democratic legislators and discuss a student loan debt refinancing proposal. Democrats have been unable to secure a meeting with Gov. Walker to talk about this issue since he launched his presidential campaign in July 2015.

“Wisconsin families are struggling and it’s disappointing that Governor Walker refuses to work across the aisle to solve the challenges facing our middle class,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling. “Student loan debt is one of the biggest economic challenges facing our state. But instead of investing in higher education and providing relief to middle class families, the problems in Wisconsin have only gotten worse.”

Wisconsin residents overwhelmingly support legislation to allow for student loan refinancing similar to options currently available for home mortgages and auto loans. This cost-free solution could save student loan borrowers thousands of dollars by lowering interest rates. A recent Marquette Law School Poll found the public supports this effort by a 4-1 margin.

“After years of Republican budget cuts, tuition increases and financial aid shortages, Wisconsin now has the third highest number of college graduates with debt in the nation,” added Shilling. “With over 800,000 Wisconsin residents owing more than $19 billion in student loan debt, Democrats want to make higher education a priority again and provide immediate relief to Wisconsin’s hardworking families. Allowing individuals to refinance their student loans is a simple, no-cost solution to help ease the burden and grow our middle class.”

Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) have co-authored the Higher Ed. Lower Debt Bill (SB 194), which would allow for the refinancing of student loan debt. Despite overwhelming support to pass the legislation, the bill has been stalled in the Senate Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges since being introduced in June 2015. Committee Chair Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) has refused to schedule a vote on the proposal.

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