|Posted:||August 5, 2019 11:51 AM|
|From:||Representative Chris Sainato|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||First Responder Loan Forgiveness Program|
|When an emergency occurs, we expect our first responders to answer the call. Unfortunately, our safety and health are jeopardized by the declining number of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders. In fact, last year’s SR 6 Fire & EMS Commission Report found that the number of firefighters in Pennsylvania has dropped from approximately 300,000 in the 1970s to as low as 30,000 today.
What’s worse: fire and EMS agencies are struggling most to recruit young members, meaning the declining numbers will only worsen in coming years. We must find a way to attract young men and women to serve in our public safety sector, and I believe offering college loan forgiveness to first responders is an innovative and effective way to do so.
The First Responder Loan Forgiveness Program would target loan forgiveness to indebted college graduates who are active members of an emergency medical services agency, volunteer fire company, or volunteer rescue company. Up to $16,000 of the graduate’s loans would be forgiven after four years of service.
I believe this program will help not only to retain our current first responders but to attract new recruits as well, strengthening our emergency response services and providing better care for our citizens. I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this initiative, which I offered last session as House Bill 1224.
PREVIOUS CO-SPONSORS: Barrar, Pashinski, Kinsey, James, Driscoll, Longietti, Readshaw, Conklin, D. Costa, Ryan, DeLuca, Petrarca and Farry
Introduced as HB1786