TOPEKA, (KSNT) — Kansas Democrats are following in President Joe Biden’s footsteps, announcing a post-secondary affordability plan on Thursday.

State Treasurer Lynn Rogers and members of the House Democrats introduced a three-pronged package to lower costs for secondary educational development opportunities. The package contains benefits for stakeholders at all levels: Students, parents, employers, and the state of Kansas.

“A well-educated Kansas workforce remains one of the most critical components to the
economic growth of our state,” said Treasurer Rogers. “We can no longer hold back making working Kansans the priority. The Secondary Education Tax Package will result in hundreds of millions of gains in economic impact to our community and that means that in 2023, Kansas families could have a critical leg up on their future.”

The package, which will be presented to lawmakers to consider in January, offers:

  • A $150 tax rebate to parents with school-age children for school supplies, books, and fees;
  • Extension of the deadline for contributing to Kansas Learning Quest 529 education savings accounts until April 15th of the following year;
  • And a tax credit for Kansas businesses allowing them to make certain student loan payments on behalf of employees.

The announcement comes after President Biden announced a student loan forgiveness plan on Wednesday, deciding to cancel $10,000 in debt for those making less than $125,000 a year.

The President’s decision could have a major impact on midterm elections, possibly increasing turnout among younger voters with outstanding student loan debt.

Rogers, who is up for re-election, said that the new proposal from state democrats following Biden’s announcement “might help” with votes, but indicated that it’s geared toward getting the conversation surrounding affordable education started.

“You know, it might help with the election, but I think it’s to make sure that we’re talking about it,” he said. “We hope a lot of Republicans will jump in as well. These really aren’t red or blue issues. These are family, Kansas issues.”

However, it may be difficult getting the legislation across the aisle next year.

Republican lawmakers have already criticized Biden for his student loan plan.

Treasurer Rogers’ Republican opponent, Steven Johnson, sent a statement to Kansas Capitol Bureau on Thursday, arguing that democrats like “throwing money” at issues.

“This is an attempt by the failing Biden administration to buy votes. It adds gas to our inflation fire and sticks hard working Kansans, who pay their own debts, with the bill. Democrat administration’s like throwing money at the problem instead of fixing them. In Kansas, we have a 529 education plan that allows students and families to responsibly plan for the future so taxpayers don’t have to pay off bad investments.”

Steven Johnson, Republican Candidate for Kansas Treasurer

In an interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau Wednesday, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, R-Kansas, said the student loan forgiveness plan will likely be challenged in court.

“I don’t think Congress has given this authority to President Biden to do this…to forgive loans,” Marshall said. “I think it’s going to be very insulting to a lot of hard-working Americans.”

Marshall said he thinks the plan is “unfair” to those who chose not to take out loans or borrow money and had to work several jobs at a time to afford school.

Republican candidate for Governor Derek Schmidt, who will be facing off with democratic Kansas Governor Laura Kelly in November, also weighed in. Schmidt released the following message online following Biden’s announcement.

“The party of Joe Biden and Laura Kelly today laid out their plan to make YOU, the hardworking taxpayer, pay back $300 billion in other people’s student loans. So shameless to buy votes like this – and so unfair to families and students who paid their own way, like by joining the military to pay for college. Plus they want 87,000 new taxpayer-funded IRS agents to audit you. They just don’t get it – Kansas families are struggling and the government just keeps spending more and more.”

Derek Schmidt, Republican Candidate for Kansas Governor