Legislation seeks to ease teachers' loan burden - Albuquerque Journal

Legislation seeks to ease teachers’ loan burden

Two New Mexico lawmakers introduced legislation that seeks to expand student loan forgiveness for certain educators, which the sponsors said will help recruit and retain much-needed teachers.

Sen. Ben Ray Luján and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, both Democrats, introduced the bill Thursday that calls for the federal government to make the monthly payments on federal student loans for educators who work in early childhood education programs and teachers at high-need public schools. The loans would be forgiven completely once teachers work in those jobs for five years.

The legislation comes as President Biden’s administration has signaled that it will pay off $10,000 to $20,000 in student loans for most Americans who have outstanding college debt.

In a news release, the lawmakers said their bill would also attract more diverse people to the teaching field.

“Educators are the foundation of our classrooms and child care centers – preparing the next generation of leaders and giving them the tools to be successful in life,” Luján said in a statement. “But teachers, child care workers and school leaders are faced with high costs of education and the financial burdens that follow, creating hurdles that have only contributed to workforce shortages impacting New Mexico and countless other states.”

Jahana Hayes, D-Connecticut, is also sponsoring the legislation.

NOT AT THE PARTY: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was one of the many people at a White House afternoon soirée this past week to celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill signed into law last month.

Most of the Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation were not at the party – which was criticized by some Republicans as being out of touch – although they all supported the legislation.

The shindig featured a performance by singer James Taylor.

“The Congresswoman would have loved to attend, but unfortunately could not,” said Julia Friedmann, a spokeswoman for Rep. Melanie Stansbury.

Adan Serna, a spokesman for Luján, said the senator was busy with meetings on Capitol Hill, but would otherwise have been there. Leger Fernández could not attend because of her schedule, according to her spokeswoman.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., center — accompanied by, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., left, and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., right — wears his hat sideways to shield himself from the sun as President Joe Biden speaks about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Sen. Martin Heinrich, who was in attendance, said he was proud to celebrate the law with the president and other Democrats. He said the legislation will fight inflation, lower health care and prescription drug costs, and make the tax code more fair to everyday Americans.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is the single greatest action that we have ever taken to change the trajectory of the climate crisis,” he said. “The investments, incentives and consumer rebates we secured will move the needle on climate further than ever before by accelerating the widespread deployment of reliable, affordable and pollution-free power generation.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., mocked the gathering on Twitter, pointing out the event was held the same day an inflation report was released showing prices throughout the country were up 8.3% in August from the year before. Prices were up 8.5% in July from the year before, according to The New York Times.

“While hardworking American families wish they ‘got a friend’ in the Oval Office,” Herrell wrote on Twitter, referencing a Taylor song, “The White House throws itself a soft-rock party to celebrate 8.3% inflation.”


Ryan Boetel: rboetel@abqjournal.com

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