MADISON, Wis. — For a second consecutive legislative session, Republicans in control of the Wisconsin State Senate are poised to adjourn while denying any help for nearly one million state student loan borrowers by passing a common sense state plan to help them refinance, just like you can with a mortgage. The Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act, Senate Bill 194, has been left off the agenda on what is reported to be final day of debate for the year, killing the measure for the 2015-16 legislative session.
“Zero dollars, zero cents, zero help,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “That’s what Republicans in control of the state Senate are willing to do for nearly one million student loan borrowers who worked hard to get their education and took on the personal responsibility to pay for it.”
The Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act, first introduced in 2013 and supported by all 50 Democratic state legislators in 2015, would help borrowers to refinance their student loans, just like you can with a mortgage, extend an existing state tax deduction to include student loan payments and provide additional information and loan counseling to borrowers.
Ross noted that Senate Republicans appear so opposed to taking real action on the student loan debt crisis that they are even spurning an effort by fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker to provide the GOP with a political talking point on student loan debt. But Walker’s plan would have fallen far short of real reform, denying any help to 97 percent of state student loan borrowers and failing to reduce the monthly payments of a single borrower.
Instead the Senate GOP will stand pat with their policies that have taken Wisconsin to third highest in the nation for percentage of graduates with student loan debt. Gov. Walker and the GOP controlled legislature have slashed funding for the University of Wisconsin (UW) System and Technical Colleges by nearly $1 billion when compared to the year before Walker entered office, hiked tuition by 11% for UW students and so woefully underfunded financial aid that 41,000 students eligible for aid received none.
Ross concluded, “The student loan debt crisis is having a real and negative effect on borrowers across the state and our entire economy. It would have only taken some common sense, helping borrowers refinance their loans just like you can with a mortgage, to provide real help. Apparently that was too much to ask for from Senate Republicans.”