Tester statements on Student Loan, Highway, and Flood Insurance agreement
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statements after the Senate agreed to comprehensive legislation to keep student loan rates low, put more Montanans to work building roads, support rural Montana counties and protect Montana homeowners from flooding.
STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES
Tester, who in April called for Congress to keep the federal student interest rate at 3.4 percent and recently boosted the maximum Pell Grant award, said that keeping college affordable without adding to the deficit would help students and strengthen Montana’s economy:
“Freezing interest rates at the current level makes college more affordable and lessens the financial burden for students once they graduate. More Montanans will go to college and have better jobs and new opportunities because of this law. That’s a responsible investment in our future.”
MONTANA HIGHWAYS, SRS, PILT
The legislation also funds improvements to the country’s transportation system and supports 13,500 construction jobs in Montana. The new law ensures that Montana will receive more than $2 for each $1 sent to Washington through the federal gasoline tax. It also eliminates many duplicative programs, ensuring transportation dollars are spent more efficiently. It extends Secure Rural Schools and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) for one year. These initiatives help rural counties fund education, first responders, road construction, and forest management. Tester called for their extension in March:
“Putting Montanans to work strengthening our infrastructure by building roads and bridges will grow our economy. Montana’s rural communities depend on good roads and schools. Extending Secure Rural Schools and PILT will help those rural economies survive and I’m proud to continue my support for these successful initiatives.”
As the chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Tester has worked for over a year on reforms that ‘provide certainty in the face of risk.’ One of Tester’s provisions requires the Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency to improve the levee accreditation process, a major issue for Great Falls. Two companies in Kalispell employ about 500 people in managing insurance policies issued under the NFIP. The Senate reauthorized the program, which protects Montana families and communities along lakes, rivers and streams, for five years:
“Long-term flood insurance reform brings needed certainty to Montana homeowners. Now, Montana homeowners know exactly where they stand and can take responsible measures to protect themselves from flood. This bill takes important steps to more closely align risks with premiums and protect taxpayers, and I’m glad to see the Senate step forward to get this done.”
Congress is expected to pass the agreement this week.