Tester Convenes First Meeting of #Montennial Advisory Council

Senator, Montana Millennials Discuss College Affordability and Opioids

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester Skyped with his #Montennial Advisory Council to discuss the tough issues facing young people in Montana and to brainstorm potential solutions to those challenges.

Councilmembers Zach Brown, Grace Johnson, Riley Tubbs, Adam Carney and Erica Braig told Tester that their chief concerns are college affordability and the growing student debt crisis, as well as the opioid epidemic.

“You guys have a bigger stake in what happens in Washington D.C. than anybody else,” Tester told the Council. “I want to hear from your mouths what you think the challenges are from your perspective on what’s going on.”

Brown, a State Representative in Bozeman, chaired the Council and brought up college affordability as one of the hurdles many millennials face. Brown praised Tester’s work holding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accountable and cracking down on predatory lenders.

Tester defended tens of thousands of Montanans with student loans this spring when he took CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney to task over a plan to defang the agency’s Office of Students and Young Consumers.

Riley Tubbs, a small business owner from Helena, said he’s struggled to get out from under his student loans.

“I’m saving for my children’s college fund while my wife and I are trying to pay off our student loans,” said Tubbs, who co-owns 10 Mile Brewery. “We’re getting sandwiched a little in my generation between ‘well, I have a family to save for, but at the same time I’m paying a 6.4 percent rate on my own loans that I have.’”

The Council also examined the harmful effect opioid and meth abuse has had on young people in Montana.

Grace Johnson, a junior at Montana State University told Tester that a family member had been prescribed 40 hydrocodone pills for a routine oral surgery, and asked what could be done to combat the over-prescription of drugs.

“That seems to me to be an excessive amount,” Johnson said. “She’s 18 years old, and if that wasn’t something she was regulating herself, and I could see that being a huge problem.”

Tester agreed and said he would direct his staff to look into ways the issue could be addressed.

Tester’s #Montennial Advisory Council consists of students, small business owners, farmers, and community leaders, and gives Tester perspectives on priorities important to young Montanans across the state.

Read more about Tester’s work on issues affecting Montana’s millennials HERE.