Today, State Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford (D-Spring Valley) presented SB 90 to set up a pilot program to refinance student loans. This was expected to be one of the marquis “Nevada Blueprint” bills this session. Even as Ford announced the bill will be amended into a pilot program, he made major news in announcing an unexpected ally.

Since he took office, Treasurer Dan Schwartz (R) has caused controversies. He’s been most notable thus far for his advocacy of ESA vouchers. However, he’s even come under fire from fellow Republicans for his “rogue hires” and general practice of operating outside the confines set by the Legislature.
This is why Senator Ford’s announcement during the Senate Government Affairs Committee’s hearing on SB 90 led to some surprise in the room.

“Treasurer Schwartz has been there, front & center, to help make this work.” – Senator Aaron Ford

Why are Ford and Schwartz so passionate about student loan refinancing? For one, the average student debt load in Nevada is $21,666. Even though that’s below the national average, that’s still a heavy burden on Nevadans who can’t afford to pay off this debt while also starting a family, buying a car, and buying a new home.
During testimony, both Rudy Zamora and MacKenzie Matheny from Las Vegas shared their own stories of struggling with student debt. “I’m 32, and I’m not even thinking about buying a home or starting a family,” Matheny stated as she explained why she fears making those commitments.  

“Refinancing student loans, like refinancing home mortgages, allows Nevadans to save money.” – Senator Aaron Ford

If passed, SB 90 will set up a pilot program to allow Nevada residents to refinance student loans through the Treasurer’s Office. Various business groups, including the Nevada Realtors Association and the Nevada Car Dealers Association, testified in favor of SB 90 and explained how this debt relief will allow more consumers to buy homes and cars.
Neither Annette Magnus nor Iridane Sanchez has a mountain of student debt. Battle Born Progress’ Magnus was fortunate enough to receive a full ride from the Millennium Scholarship, back when the state’s tobacco settlement was enough to provide more generous scholarships. Current UNLV student Sanchez holds down a job to supplement her $10,000 Millennium Scholarship. Magnus called SB 90 a solution to the “debt sentence” less fortunate Nevadans fall into. Sanchez called upon passage of SB 90 to provide her and other working-class students more peace of mind.

“We believe all people who choose to further their education should have option to refinance their loans. […] “We believe all Nevadans should have a fair shot at the American Dream, and this bill gives them that shot.” – Annette Magnus

After Ford announced the likely amendments to his bill, SB 90 received no opposition during the hearing. We’ll see if his bipartisan alliance with Treasurer Dan Schwartz and various business groups will let this “Nevada Blueprint” bill sail through.