The Richmond Register

Local News

June 29, 2012

Gov. Beshear signs HB 362 at EKU

Bill creates revenue for financial aide agencies

RICHMOND — Gov. Steve Beshear signed House Bill 362 Friday that will create Asset Resolution Corporation (ARC), a new agency in Kentucky that will collect and service defaulted education loans for the U.S. Department of Education and generate new revenue for Kentucky financial aide agencies.

“You ought to be proud of the fact the primary sponsor of this bill was your very own (Rep.) Rita Smart,” said Beshear during the bill signing ceremony at Eastern Kentucky University. “Let me tell you, she is a gem.”

Smart is an EKU graduate who came from a family of low economic means, she said.

“I think its only fitting my first bill relates to education,” Smart said. “Without the help of student loans, I wouldn’t have been able to go to college, get my master’s degree, have a successful career, have a wonderful family and serve you people as your state legislator.”

Her parents were tenant farmers who had just purchased their own home when the “shy little farm girl” first stepped on EKU’s campus years ago, she said.

ARC will generate new revenue for the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) and Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC). Both agencies currently service the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), which soon will be coming to an end.

Both KHEAA and KHESLC are “self-supporting agencies that re-invest their revenues into our Kentucky students,” the governor said.

This legislation will allow these agencies to continue “the good work they do in promoting access to higher education and administering student financial aide at no cost to the state,” he said.

Beshear called HB 362 a joint effort between Smart, Rep. Carl Rollins of Woodford County, who heads the House education committee, Sen. Jared Carpenter and Rep. Lonnie Napier.

He emphasized the importance of higher education to Kentuckians by citing a recent report by the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Education. According to the report, in 2011 the medium weekly earnings for those who held a bachelor’s degree was 64 percent higher than that of a high school graduate.

“That earning gap is the highest its been since that gap first started being measured way back in 1915,” Beshear said.  

Although there have been cutbacks and “education has not escaped unscathed,” the governor said, “there are a few things in state government that are more important than anything else. Educating our children is the most important thing that state government invests in.”

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, ext. 6696.

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