County Board Shines Light on Student Loan Debt
January 28, 2014
County Board Chair John Hendrick, 608.446.4842
The Dane County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution designed to address growing student loan debt by directing the Department of Administration to inform County employees annually that they may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and to assist qualifying employees with necessary paperwork. The resolution further calls on Congress to pass H.R. 3047, and for the state legislature to pass the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill, both of which would allow for refinancing of student loans.
“Student loan debt is an issue that is more pressing every single day. Last year we hit over $1 trillion in cumulative student loan debt in this country. I feel that number is a travesty,” said Supervisor Leland Pan, who represents the University of Wisconsin campus on the County Board. “It’s really important that we take this stand. This is not just a nice statement, but something we can do about it. .Higher education should be available to all and should be a right.”
“The impact exceeds the borrower themselves and impacts the entire economy,” said Supervisor Jenni Dye, who co-sponsored the resolution with Pan. “There’s obviously an effect on small businesses, because the money we are paying toward student loans is money that people of my generation are not able to spend on other things.”
Dye also cited research suggesting that people with student debt are more likely to buy used cars and rent homes rather than buy them.
In other business, the Board approved County Executive Joe Parisi’s appointment of Pat McPartland to the Human Services Board to replace Lilada Gee, over the objections of some who felt the appointment was political.
“Any time we have an election coming up and people file for an open seat, we quickly rush through and appoint someone,” said Supervisor Dave Ripp. “It smells an awful lot like politics. That’s not to say the person isn’t qualified.”
McPartland has a master’s degree in special education and extensive experience with the transition of young people with disabilities into adult life.
The appointment was ultimately approved with Ripp joining Supervisors Bill Clausius, Dave Wiganowsky, Kurt Schlicht and Ronn Ferrell voting no.
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