Colorado’s Morning News, Cory Gardner, October 17, 2018

Station:    KOA, 850 am

Show:       Colorado’s Morning News

Guests:    Gardner, Cory


Date:       October 17, 2018


Click Here for Audio

HOST APRIL ZESBAUGH: [00:00:00] We all know somebody — maybe even ourselves — who has crippling college debt. What if employers could help their employees with it, tax free? Well, that’s the idea behind a new bill sponsored by Colorado GOP Senator Cory Gardner, who joins us on the live line to talk all about it. Good morning, Senator.

U.S. SENATOR FROM COLORADO, CORY GARDNER: [00:00:15] Good morning.

ZESBAUGH: [00:00:16] You know,we were just talking with our young producer about this very issue yesterday. And he said, “I feel like the American Dream is on hold for people like me who have all of this college debt.” That really is the issue, isn’t it?

GARDNER: [00:00:28] It’s a big challenge: Forty-four million borrowers; average debt [is] $40,000. If you’re out of college, trying to start a family, buy a home, pay for the energy bills — electricity bills — when you have a massive student loan, that’s tough to do.

HOST MARTY LENZ: [00:00:41] Senator, this is really about economics for you, is it not? Because you figure, if people don’t have this debt saddling them, they can invest more in themselves and in the economy and drive a greater strength for the economy.

GARDNER: [00:00:52] That’s exactly right. If you spend your first 20 years in the workforce not saving for your retirement, that’s a significant setback later on in life. Maybe you have to start a family later than you wanted. Maybe you can’t buy a home — that American Dream –to be a part of it. And so, this helps in a very clever way. Employers find tools that can help attract employees. And employees have a reason, now, to go work for an employe who is going to help pay off that student debt.

ZESBAUGH: [00:01:14] Yeah, talk a little bit more about how this bill would work, how much money could an employer give to an employee, and more on that incentive for the employer, if you would.

GARDNER: [00:01:22] Yeah, absolutely. So, It’s a little bit like a 401k, where a business can spend up to $10,000. The business doesn’t have to pay an unemployment insurance cost or a payroll tax on it. They don’t have to pay tax on $10,00 that they’re giveing to the employee. The employee does not pay an income tax on up to $10,000, as long as it goes toward that student debt payment. Now, they could structure it anyway they want. Maybe it’s a 50/50 split. Maybe it’s 90/10. But, you know, we know one of the chief concerns we hear from employers around the state is finding talent, finding employees. And I think if you’re a business that can offer this, you’re going to have a better opportunity to attract new employees. And certainly, employees are going to be excited about having a way to pay off their student debt.

LENZ: [00:02:03] It sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Hey, Senator, before we let you go, I wanted to just briefly ask you about the issues going on with Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia. What’s your perspective of what’s happening?

GARDNER: [00:02:13] So, I signed a letter to the President asking for an investigation under the Global Magnitsky Act. That is a human rights investigation that will occur. If we find that Saudi Arabia is indeed responsible for this, this will create significant sanctions, impose significant sanctions. Look, we need more facts. We need more information. But right now, it does not look good for what action Saudi Arabia may have participated in.

ZESBAUGH: [00:02:38] Some [are] calling it a defining moment for the President. Would you agree with that?

GARDNER: [00:02:39] Well, there’s no doubt, this is a defining moment in our relationship with Saudi Arabia. But we must get the information. I can’t stress that enough. This is an important — important relationship in the Middle East. If they did this, things will change, undoubtedly. If they didn’t [do this], we can’t act rashly.

LENZ: [00:02:56] Senator Gardner, thank you for your time. We appreciate it.

GARDNER: [00:02:58] Thank you.