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Washington, DC - Senator Kay Hagan (NC) announced today she has introduced legislation with Senator Jack Reed (RI) to keep student loan interest rates low. The current interest rate for subsidized Stafford loans is set to double on July 1st if Congress does not act, and the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 Hagan is sponsoring will maintain the low interest rate for an additional year as Congress works on a long-term, sustainable solution for the federal student loan program.
"Students in North Carolina cannot afford more student loan debt, and they certainly cannot afford congressional inaction," said Senator Kay Hagan. "I refuse to sit on my hands while 176,000 North Carolina students and their families see interest rates double on their federal Stafford loans. I am hopeful we can work towards a long-term plan, but in the meantime I am committed to working with my colleagues - Democrats and Republicans - to pass this legislation and avoid putting one more burden on our students and middle class families who are trying to make ends meet."
If Congress does not act by July 1st, interest rates on Stafford loans will rise from 3.4 to 6.8 percent - effectively sticking 176,000 students in North Carolina with an extra $1,000 a year each in student loan costs. The Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013 would set the interest rate for any subsidized Stafford loan made between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014 at the current rate of 3.4 percent. Stafford loans are need-based, with the majority of borrowers coming from families who make $60,000 or less a year.
"I have talked to families and students across North Carolina who cannot bear this burden, and I'm not willing to accept this fate for our students or our middle class families who are trying to do right by their children," added Hagan. "If we saddle our young people with unsustainable debt, it will be more difficult for them to buy homes or cars, start businesses, support families, or invent, innovate and otherwise contribute to growing our economy."
I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.
So we welcome today’s decision, and I’ve directed the Attorney General to work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.
On an issue as sensitive as this, knowing that Americans hold a wide range of views based on deeply held beliefs, maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom is also vital. How religious institutions define and consecrate marriage has always been up to those institutions. Nothing about this decision – which applies only to civil marriages – changes that.
The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.
The Republican’s deadline to end the session is fast approaching with no end in sight. The House and Senate are far apart on tax reform and the budget, which means we will be around for at least another three weeks. Since the budget must be passed by July 1, the chambers will both have to pass a “continuing resolution” to keep the government going using last year’s budget.
Another intrusion into local control by the legislature last week: the Lee County Board of Education and the City of Sanford will now be partisan elections, over the opposition of even some Republicans on the School Board and the Sanford City Council.
Budget and Tax Bills:
This week, the Republicans from the NC House and the NC Senate are working on a compromise between their House and Senate budget and tax bills.
Both the House and Senate bills provide tax cuts to our wealthiest citizens and corporations at the expense of our middle-class citizens, our children, our education system, and our community services.
The Senate bill would cost the state more than $850 million in lost revenue in the next 2 years while the House bill would cost more than $500 million.
As the June 30 deadline quickly approaches, the NC House has given final approval to its budget plan. The Republican majority voted 77-40 to adopt the proposal after nearly 11 hours of debate and votes on more than 25 amendments. The final vote on the full budget comes three weeks after the Republican-controlled Senate approved its proposal, which spends almost exactly the same amount as the House, or nearly $20.6 billion. It now heads back to the Senate for negotiations.