Wisconsin State Representative Cory Mason is committed to helping students in his state get a handle on their student loan debt. Despite a similar bill being rejected in 2013 and 2015, Mason reintroduced legislation that would allow borrowers to refinance their debt at a lower rate as well as deduct payments from their income taxes.

The Journal Times reports that on Tuesday, Mason, along with state Sen. Dave Hansen, introduced the “Higher Ed, Lower Debt” bill in Madison, which would create a state authority to help borrowers refinance their student loans at lower interest rates, extend an existing state tax deduction to include student loan payments, and provide additional information and loan counseling to borrowers. Rep. Mason noted that the bill would not only be an economic stimulus for middle-class families, but it would also help the state’s overall economy.

Wisconsin ranks in the top five states in the nation for percentage of graduates with debt with one million student loan borrowers looking for help with their looming debt. Like most Americans, this debt keeps many borrowers from achieving certain goals such as buying a house or starting a family. Refinancing can lower monthly payments significantly, giving borrowers extra income to spend on other things.

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Republicans aren’t as convinced that this bill will have a positive impact. In fact, they argue it will likely be a burden to taxpayers since they will either be paying back or subsidizing loans in order to keep interest rates low. Since the GOP controls the Assembly, the bill is not expected to proceed to the next step.

This is old news in Wisconsin. Since 2011, funding for higher education and financial aid has been drastically cut under the policies of Gov. Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature. In addition, tuition for University of Wisconsin students has increased by double digits.

Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, which aims to restore progressive policies to the state, says it’s time for the state to “fix a broken system and deliver real help to those that have earned it.”

 

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