By Jesse Saffron
Bills filed in the North Carolina General Assembly would provide student loan debt relief to “public interest” attorneys and to K-12 teachers. Both proposals are ill-advised.
Rather than erase debt for those in politically connected groups, lawmakers should work to address the root causes of skyrocketing college costs, which are borne by all North Carolina students through the tuition and fees they pay each semester. Of course, state taxpayers also cover those costs, with roughly $2.6 billion allotted annually to the University of North Carolina System.
One of the bills, H.B. 1015, would allocate $500,000 each year to the North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Fund—NC LEAF—to restore a loan repayment assistance program for public interest attorneys. (From 2002-03 through 2010-11, the program received more than $3 million from the state.)
In a Pope Center interview, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Sarah Stevens (R), said the funds would “entice attorneys to stay in the public defender’s office or District Attorney’s office” by helping to pay loans of staffers who earn less than $50,000. Stevens said she filed the bill at the behest of the N.C. Courts Commission, which is comprised of politicians (including Stevens), judges, district attorneys, and bar representatives. CONTINUE READING HERE