The legislation seeks to ease the loan burden on teachers

Two New Mexico lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at expanding student loan forgiveness for certain educators, which the sponsors say will help recruit and retain much-needed teachers.

Sen. Ben Ray Luján and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, both Democrats, introduced the bill Thursday that would require the federal government to make the monthly federal student loan payments for educators working in early childhood education programs and teachers in high-need schools. The loans would be fully forgiven once teachers had worked in those professions for five years.

The legislation comes as President Biden’s administration has signaled it will repay $10,000-$20,000 in student loans for most Americans with outstanding college debt.

In a press release, lawmakers said their bill would also attract more diverse people to the classroom.

“Educators are the foundation of our classrooms and daycares – preparing the next generation of leaders and giving them the tools to succeed in life,” Luján said in a statement. “However, teachers, childcare workers and school principals face high education costs and the resulting financial strains that create hurdles that have only contributed to labor shortages affecting 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 many people at an afternoon party at the White House last week to celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act, a law that was signed into law last month.

Most Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation were absent from the party – which some Republicans have criticized for being outspoken – although they all supported the law.

The shindig included a performance by singer James Taylor.

“The congresswoman would have loved to be there, but unfortunately couldn’t,” said Julia Friedmann, a spokeswoman for Rep. Melanie Stansbury.

Adan Serna, a spokeswoman for Luján, said the senator was busy with meetings on Capitol Hill but would have been there otherwise. Leger Fernández was unable to attend due to her schedule, according to her spokeswoman.

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

Senator Martin Heinrich, who was in attendance, said he was proud to celebrate the law with the president and fellow Democrats. He said the legislation will fight inflation, reduce health care and prescription drug costs, and make tax laws fairer for Americans in everyday life.

“The Anti-Inflation Act is the biggest single action we’ve ever taken to change the trajectory of the climate crisis,” he said. “The investments, incentives and consumer rebates we have received will advance climate action further than ever before by accelerating the widespread deployment of reliable, affordable and pollution-free power generation.”

Meanwhile, MP Yvette Herrell, RN.M., mocked the gathering on Twitter, pointing out that the event came on the same day that an inflation report was released showing prices across the country plummeted in August increased by 8.3% compared to the previous year. Prices rose 8.5% year over year in July, according to The New York Times.

“While hard-working American families wish they had a friend in the Oval Office,” Herrell wrote on Twitter, referencing a Taylor song, “the White House is throwing a soft rock party to celebrate the 8.3- celebrate percentage inflation.”

Ryan Boetel: [email protected]

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