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Durbin Legislation Would Allow Student Loan Bankruptcy

A wrap-up of some of the latest political news from around the state.

U.S. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced legislation that would allow private student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy. The bill does not include federal student loans. This may be a boon to some senior citizens who are more concerned about having money for student loans rather than for golf or cruises. These senior citizens are still paying their college loans; others are paying costs incurred when they returned to college later in life; and others are strapped with loans they co-signed for their children who cannot, in this job market, afford to pay their loans.

The Washington Post reported that new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old, according to the Post.

The Federal Reserve Bank research said the percentage of older student loan borrowers by age are: 60 and older, 5.3 percent; 50 to 59, 11.8 percent; 40 to 49, 14.8 percent.  

Mega Millions Ticket Sales Raise $31.5 Million for Schools

Illinois' schools are winners in last week’s Mega Millions record lottery drawing. NBC Channel 5 reported that the Illinois' Common School Fund will receive a cash infusion of $31.5 million from ticket sales. The March 30 drawing was the largest U.S. jackpot, at $656 million.

The Illinois Lottery, which became the first state to sell lottery games online, said it sold more than $1 million from the Internet and recorded the largest sales week in state history, with sales totaling more than $94 million. Sales peaked from 5 to 6 p.m. March 30 when lottery officials reported tickets selling at a rate of $37,600 per minute or $2.3 million in sales for that hour. 

Illinois Congressmen Vote for Alternative Budget

Greg Hinz, of Crain’s Chicago Business, wrote about what he called “a rather interesting U.S. House vote last week that didn't get much notice, but it's a sign that, on some matters, the Land of Lincoln actually can still lead.”

The vote was on an alternate budget vote. Not the slash-burn one offered by GOP budget buster Paul Ryan, or the "no worries/tax the rich" approach favored by too many Democrats, he said.

Rather, this budget sought to implement the findings of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, which actually dared to go after whole herds of sacred cows on both sides of the partisan fence.

The budget plan would have trimmed the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next 10 years, with two-thirds of the savings coming from cuts in spending including social welfare programs and one-third from closing specific tax loopholes while also lowering the tax rate.

The measure lost 38-382 in the House. But among the 38 yeas were five of Illinois' 19 congressmen, including suburban Republican Robert Dold. Voting no included Republicans Judy Biggert of Hinsdale, Randy Hultgren of Winfield and Peter Roskam of Wheaton.

Tuition Break Program Survives Attempt to Limit it

The Illinois House killed legislation March 29 that would have put limits on a tuition break program for employees of the state’s public universities, the Quad Cities Times reported.

The proposal, HB 5531, mustered just 25 “yes” votes of the 60 needed for passage. It would have limited the current 50 percent tuition cut to families with household incomes of $50,000 or less.

Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, wants to end the benefit, saying the state can no longer afford it. But supporters said the benefit is an important recruiting tool for university employees.

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