Cabello argues that Illinois must pay off its own debts before adding student loans to the ledger
State Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) argues there has to be another way to address the state’s runaway student loan problem than the one that recently passed the House.
“I don’t think taxpayers’ money should be used for those things when we already can’t afford what we have,” Cabello told the Rockford Sun about a plan that would see the state set aside as much as 5 percent of the revenues it invests for refinancing high-cost student loan programs for students. “I sure hope we aren’t trying to follow the lead of (Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful) Elizabeth Warren, because this state simply can’t afford it."
House Bill 2865, which has the full support and backing of state treasurer Michael Frerichs, would have the state allocate at least $600 million to help as many students as the funds would cover overcome the ever-rising costs of higher education. The bill has already sailed through the House by better than a 2-1 margin and has since been referred to the Senate Assignments Committee.
Cabello said the fact that Chicago Crain’s Business reports reports that funds for the program would come from the same resource pool that the state is using to pay down all its back debt only gives him more pause.
“We can’t pay the bills we have already,” he said. “Right now, we have over $15 billion in unpaid bills and a $3 billion hole in the new budget just proposed by the governor. We’ve got to find other ways of lowering costs.”
With Frerichs insisting that the plan will mean greater returns for the state than the typical 2 to 3 percent generated from short-term investments, Cabello said he is not altogether opposed to the idea of the state providing more assistance.
“But the way to do it is after we’ve gotten everything in control with our own finances,” he said. “If we can reduce spending and get our budget in order, then maybe we can help others out in this kind of way.”