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In PA-13, 2 Dems Say ‘I was First’ on Student Loan Bill

Boyle Leach
Boyle (left) and Leach

Two of the Democrats jockeying to replace outgoing Rep. Allyson Schwartz say
their opponent is copying their proposal to ease loan debt for Pa. students.

In the last few days, State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Phila) and State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montco) have both touted their own similarly named bills to aid college students with their tuition. The only problem is the two candidates can’t agree who had it first.

The basic idea behind the “Pay It Forward” plan is that students would receive full assistance during their years in school from a state fund, then repay the amount they borrowed interest-free after entering the workforce.

The 13th district comprises some of the most college-educated communities in the country. That means students, former students and their parents make up a significant percentage of Democratic primary voters.

So, which candidate was the first to propose the plan?

It first became public on Wednesday, August 7th when Sen. Leach announced his “Pay It Forward, Pay It Back” bill. This legislation would create a public fund that students would draw from in order to attend a state owned or affiliated school.

“Under the bill, qualifying students could use resources from the pool to fund their education,” according to Leach’s statement. “After graduating and joining the workforce, the students would repay the amount borrowed into the fund, interest free, using a small percentage – around 4 percent – of their monthly income.”

Then on August 11th, Rep. Boyle unveiled his own bill to create a commission to analyze the “Pay It Forward” model that would replace tuition at public colleges with a plan to collect portions of a graduate’s future earnings.

“With Pennsylvania’s college graduates shouldering the second highest level of student loan debt in the country, the need to take a hard look at our existing system of funding higher education is urgent,” said Boyle. “This legislation would initiate the process of conducting a comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the Pay It Forward model.”

Leach was the first to make public the details of his proposal, in a July 18 co-sponsorship memo to his state Senate colleagues.

“I was surprised to read about Rep. Boyle’s bill. It seems to be the same bill, they even have the same name,” Leach said. “But you know they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Boyle campaign coordinator* Ann Mathew said his legislative staff had been working on the proposal for months.

“Rep Boyle and his staff have been working on this ‘Pay It Forward’ proposal since June. They also first contacted the Legislative Reference Bureau in early July, before anything from Daylin,” said Mathew. “Nonetheless, we welcome Sen. Leach’s new interest in this topic.”

Boyle announced the plan 4 days after Leach, and did so on Sunday – an unusual day for a lawmaker to announce legislation. Boyle sent around his co-sponsorship memo today, Monday.

Leach’s proposal would implement the program immediately and pay for it with a tax on natural gas extraction in the state. Mathew noted that such a requirement would make it difficult to pass through the state’s Republican legislature, thus making Leach’s proposal significantly less feasible.

The commission created by Boyle’s plan would recommend what the program should cost, how to fund it, and possibly set up some pilot programs to test its feasibility. A Leach spokesman characterized the commission as lackluster compared to Leach’s relatively more concrete proposal.

While Leach beat Boyle to the punch on introducing a bill, both have advocated higher education funding since they took office in 2009. And both candidates cited the same 2012 study from the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle as their inspiration.

The bills aren’t technically in competition. In a normal legislative setting (i.e. if the prime sponsors weren’t campaigning against each other), both chambers would look to reconcile the two proposals.

This episode is just the latest illustration of how contentious and close the crowded the Democratic primary may be next spring. In addition to Boyle and Leach, former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies and physician and healthcare activist Valerie Arkoosh are also running in the Democratic primary.

Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.

*An earlier version of this report listed Ann Mathew’s title as campaign manager. Her title is and has been campaign coordinator. 

10 Responses

  1. دانلود فیلم نفس, دانلود رایگان فیلم نفس, دانلود فیلم جدید نفس, دانلود فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم, دانلود فیلم های جدید و برتر, دانلود رایگان فیلم و سریال با لینک مستقیم
    دانلود فیلم نفس

  2. I would guess that both were working on their proposals to address this important issue at about the same time. The day before, the day after stuff is really irrelevant. Because of the outright refusal of Governor Corbett, House Republicans and the Senate Republicans to ever consider any tax on the natural gas industry (and please the phony “impact fee” doesn’t count), the Boyle proposal has the better chance of actually going somewhere.

  3. Oregon passed this bill a few months ago with both praise and criticism. Instead of shooting from the hip with a quick bill, it makes sense to study the proposal’s political and public policy ramifications. Let’s face it – only a very strong education bill with bi-partisan support is going to get past this governor.

    It seems as if Boyle’s team is taking the more responsible approach. Instead of going for the quick headline, Brendan Boyle engages in nuts & bolts work of the legislative process similar to his REACH scholarships for college students.

    More concerning is the negative approach seemingly taken by Daylin Leach’s campaign (though perhaps it is just the way the article is written). He appears to criticize Brendan Boyle for copycatting while he is engaging in the same activity. Nothing wrong with studying and implementing the policies in force in another state. However Daylin Leach’s criticism of Brendan Boyle smacks of hypocrocisy.

    Daylin Leach seems like a good person as do all of the candidates, though a campaign often brings out the worst in people. Hopefully this will not be the case with this race.

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Oregon pass this kind of bill a couple of months ago? If that’s the case then they’re both crying wolf over an idea they took from elsewhere. Not a bad proposal, but hardly original and one that’ll never get passed in 1000 years even if and when the study Boyle wants come back.

    Political pettiness at its best.

  5. Could not agree more — Leach proposed his first, announced it first, and Boyle pushed out the same idea a few days later.

    As an aside, real bold move by the Boyles: let’s get a commission together to tell us what to think. How about an actual thought?

  6. So Daylin announced it first, and published it first. So where is the controversy? Brady’s machine – as usual – is a little slow on the uptake. And really – all they do is propose a “commission?” Who are they, Obama? Half a proposal is no proposal at all.

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