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House Bill 485 — Nurse student loan repayment program

House Bill 485 — Nurse student loan repayment program

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
February 14, 2020

Analysts: Lindsay Atkinson and Wayne Hoffman

Bill description: HB 485 would set up a taxpayer-funded loan repayment program for nurses employed at Idaho state veterans homes.

Rating: -4

Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government? 

This bill would create a new loan repayment program in which the state pays down the student loan debt of nurses working at Idaho state veterans homes. 


Does it transfer a function of the private sector to the government? Examples include government ownership or control of any providers of goods or services such as the Land Board's purchase of a self-storage facility, mandatory emissions testing, or pre-kindergarten. Conversely, does it eliminate a function of government or return a function of government to the private sector? 

Repaying a loan is the responsibility of the person who incurred it. This bill would transfer that obligation to the government. 


Does it increase government redistribution of wealth? Examples include the use of tax policy or other incentives to reward specific interest groups, businesses, politicians, or government employees with special favors or perks; transfer payments; and hiring additional government employees. Conversely, does it decrease government redistribution of wealth? 

This bill calls for the government to step in and offer up taxpayer funds to a nurse with college debt. In doing so, it requires taxpayers  (some of whom might even be making their own college loan repayments or unable to afford college) to make payments that benefit some nurses based solely on their status as being employed in a state veterans home. 

Qualifying nurses can receive up to $5,000 a year for 5 years, for a total of $25,000. This money represents dollars from other taxpayers that are redistributed based on government criteria. It represents the government making the decision that one group of individuals is more deserving of taxpayer money that the taxpayers themselves are.


Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law? 

This bill distinguishes between nurses employed at state veterans homes and all other nurses. It grants nurses with a specific employer (a state veterans home) a benefit not given to other nurses, like other nurses employed by the state and nurses in the private sector. 


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