Jason Pizzo proposes student loan repayment for assistant state attorneys, public defenders

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The proposal aims to increase employment and retention.

Sen. Jason Pizzo filed a proposal on Friday that would create a student loan repayment program for Assistant State Attorneys and Assistant Public Defenders.

The bill, SB 1472, would establish the repayment program under the Department of Education and provide participants an annual payment to offset costs.

“The purpose of the program is to increase employment and retention of assistant state attorneys and assistant public defenders in the public sector by making payments that offset student loans issued or guaranteed by a state or the federal government,” the legislation reads.

Under the proposal, a program participant would receive $3,000 for at least four years of service. Participants with more than 7 years of continuous service, meanwhile, would receive a $5,000 annual payment.

“Each payment shall be made directly to the financial institution that services the program participant’s student loan,” the legislation reads.

In order to qualify, applications would need to satisfy several eligibility requirements.

According to the bill, the applicant must be employed full time and earning a salary less than $65,000.

They must also be in good standing with the Florida Bar and never received disciplinary action.

Further, an applicant can not be eligible for any other “state, local, or federal grant or private fund that assists in student loan repayment,” the legislation reads.

Notably, an applicant must have fewer than 10 years of service as an assistant public defender or state attorney.

Those accepted within the program will need to provide proof of eligibility annually.

“A program participant must submit such affidavit to his or her employer within 30 days after his or her employment anniversary,” the bill says. “If the employer signs such affidavit, the employer must submit the signed annual certification affidavit to the department within 60 days after the program participant’s most recent employment anniversary.”

If signed into law, the bill would take effect July 1.

Pizzo’s bill comes after Rep. Mike Gottlieb introduced the student loan repayment program in January.

Gottlieb’s bill, HB 147, is in the hands of the Post-Secondary Education & Lifelong Learning Subcommittee.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at jason@floridapolitics.com or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.

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