Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) praised passage of legislation today that will invest in the nation's transportation infrastructure and prevent college loans interest rates from doubling. Federal authority to fund transportation projects was set to expire tomorrow, and student loan interest rates would have doubled on July 1 without legislative action.
"Investments in transportation and education are down payments on our nation's future success. This is money we need to invest, and it should have never been mired in the politics of Washington," Himes said. "I'm pleased we have come to an agreement that will both allow smart transportation planning while creating or saving millions of construction jobs and prevent student loan rates from doubling, but these both should have been no-brainers from the beginning."
Since first running for office, Himes has advocated for transportation investment to spur economic growth--both now and in the future. The bill passed today will create or save more than 2 million jobs, but Himes notes there is far more work to do--and many more jobs that could be created--if the federal government used the inexpensive financing available now to make the inevitable transportation investments the nation needs. While the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that $101 billion would be needed annually over the next 20 years to keep the highway system in its current state, today's transportation bill authorizes only about half that, or $105 billion for the next 27 months.
Today's agreement also extends for one year the current interest rate of 3.4% for federally subsidized, undergraduate student loans. Without legislative action to keep rates at their current level, Connecticut students who rely on Stafford loans would have been forced to pay an average of $807 extra per year. Under this scenario, the average subsidized Stafford loan borrower would have $2,800 in increased student loan debt over a 10-year repayment term.