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Arizona Lawmakers Square-Off On Student Loan Debt Cancellation

July 31, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

A coalition of Arizona lawmakers are pushing back against the recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on President Joe Biden’s student debt cancellation efforts.

Earlier in July, a group of Arizona Democrat legislators wrote a letter to President Biden, calling on his administration to “deliver its campaign promise to cancel student debt.”

The legislators, led by Representative Cesar Aguilar, expressed their collective outrage over the Supreme Court opinion in June, which overturned the president’s student debt cancellation plans. They wrote, “While members of the Court’s majority enjoy vacations paid for by billionaires, this ruling shows blatant disregard and disrespect for the 43 million American borrowers being crushed by student debt and desperate for relief.”

In their letter, the lawmakers included information about Arizonans who were in line to benefit from the president’s debt cancellation scheme that was thwarted by the nation’s high court, stating, “Nearly 900,000 Arizonans stood to benefit from your Student Loan Cancelation Plan – 12.4 percent of our state’s population. The average student loan debt in Arizona is $33,396. Your Student Loan Cancellation Plan could cancel $10,000 for those making less than $125,000 and up to $20,000 for those who are Pell Grant Recipients. Arizona has the 15th highest number of borrowers in the country and would have seen a significant financial release and economic impact.”

The Democrats warned of the consequences that could come with the Court’s decision, adding, “Without relief Arizonans will have less money in their pockets to pay for bills, goods and services strained by inflation. Less consumer spending reduces economic growth and moves the American Dream further out of reach for millions. … We urge you to act as swiftly as possible so Arizonans still recovering financially due to the pandemic can get back on their feet.”

On the last day of its recent term, the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion in Biden v. Nebraska, striking down the president’s student loan cancellation program. Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion, and he was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

The majority opinion stated that “the ‘economic and political significance’ of the Secretary’s action is staggering by any measure. Practically every student borrower benefits, regardless of circumstances. A budget model issued by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania estimates that the program will cost taxpayers ‘between $469 billion and $569 billion,’ depending on the total number of borrowers ultimately covered.”

At that time, freshman Republican Representative Austin Smith reacted, “Cancelling student loan debt is and always will be an irresponsible and brainless ‘policy’ proposal. It deserved this fiery death at SCOTUS. Do not take astronomically large loans for a career with a salary you will never be able to pay off.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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