N.Y. governor to tackle student debt, workforce development

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing measures to fight the crushing burden of student loan debt.

The Democratic governor says his proposed reforms build on the Excelsior Scholarship, which makes New York’s public universities tuition-free for middle class families.

Cuomo proposes creating a student loan ombudsman in the state Department of Financial Services to help resolve student complaints, educate borrowers and assist students in default.

He also proposes requiring colleges to provide truth-in-lending facts for students, and increasing consumer protection standards in the student loan industry.

Cuomo proposes prohibiting state agencies from suspending professional licenses of people behind or in default on their student loans.

The proposals will be part of his State of the State address on Wednesday.

Restructuring the workforce strategy

The governor also wants to create an $175 million economic development fund that would support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, expand apprenticeships, and address the long-term needs of expanding industries — with a particular focus on emerging fields with growing demand for jobs like clean energy, health technology, and computer science.

The plan also will call to create a new office of workforce development to streamline various agencies with workforce programs. The director will serve on the State Workforce Investment Board, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team and the Regional Community College Councils.

Cuomo also wants to develop data to map the workforce needs of New York’s economy effectively.

Monroe Community College currently uses an innovative data mining methodology to identify local workforce needs with more precision than BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) and Census data,” according to the summary. “The Director of Workforce Development will lead an initiative to take this methodology to scale, ensuring that all regions have access to the data needed to develop sector-based workforce development plans. This information will allow New York to better target its workforce investments and better attract top talent and top companies to the communities that need them most.”

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