September 12

By Morgan Krakow

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Monday joined a group of other Republican governors in signing a letter to President Joe Biden opposing a recent move to forgive some student loan debt to eligible Americans.

Biden announced his administration would relieve $10,000 in federal student loan debt and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients to Americans making less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 as a household.

In the letter, Dunleavy and 21 other governors asked the president to withdraw the plan and criticized it as being burdensome to taxpayers and Americans who did not attend college or seek out an advanced degree in favor of an “elite few.” They also questioned whether Biden has the authority to forgive student debt.
“At a time when inflation is sky high due to your unprecedented tax-and-spend agenda, your plan will encourage more student borrowing, incentivize higher tuition rates, and drive-up inflation even further, negatively impacting every American,” they wrote.

A spokesman for Dunleavy said the governor, who is running for reelection, had no further comment on the letter. Asked for a copy of the letter, spokesman Jeff Turner told the Daily News to submit a public records request to obtain it. Multiple other governors who signed the letter posted it in full to their websites.

Both of Alaska’s Republican U.S. senators have previously criticized the debt forgiveness plan. In a series of tweets last month, Sen. Dan Sullivan said the plan “undermines the work ethic” of people who had already paid off their loans and said Biden’s move was a political one in response to his approval ratings. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, also up for reelection this year, said the plan would add to the national debt, doesn’t recognize those who already paid their loan debt or help those who will take on new debt in the future.

There is disagreement among economists about the plan’s potential for driving up inflation and its overall impact on taxpayers.

Kevin Berry, an associate professor of economics at University of Alaska Anchorage, said he thinks the inflationary concerns are overstated, since borrowers haven’t been required to make loan payments in two years and forgiveness won’t change spending habits.

About 67,000 Alaska borrowers owe some amount in federal student loans, according to the federal government. Some Alaskans have said the forgiveness will allow them to focus more on the future, allowing them to save for retirement or go onto an advanced degree debt-free.