Voters to decide whether to approve ballot to address student loan interest rates

Published: Nov. 7, 2016 at 5:29 PM AKST
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Voters will decide whether to support a ballot measure aimed at addressing student loan interest rates in Alaska.

If ballot measure 2 passes, it would make a change to the state's constitution allowing a reduction in interest rates for Alaska student loans.

The measure's backers said while the description calls it a measure to "allow debt for postsecondary student loans," it doesn't mean the state would take on any new debt.

Senator Anna MacKinnon said it wouldn't change the payment method for students and reducing interest rates would minimize student debt.

The constitutional amendment passed the senate in 2015 and in the house in 2016.

While it ultimately passed, Representative Lynn Gattis said she was one of two lawmakers who voted against it.

"I think that in times like this that Alaska's in, we don't need to add to our bonded indebtedness so it was very, very simple, was my reason behind it," Gattis said.

MacKinnon said the state will not incur more debt.

"This does not take on any new debt, this allows the full faith in credit of the state to replace the revenue bond from a financial perspective," MacKinnon said.

MacKinnon's office said it's anticipated to reduce student loan interest rates by around one percent.

Currently, the interest rate in Alaska sits at about 6.25 percent.