Sessions Delivers Opening Statement At Hearing On President’s Education Budget
“Congress and the President agreed to certain spending limits, but now you are simply proposing to spend well above that… This is not acceptable. If you and the Administration want to spend more money on education, you must make it a priority, reducing spending somewhere else…
More federal money is not a substitute for the support of a family or community, for the value of a role model or mentor, or the quality of a great teacher. More money cannot make a student do his homework or show up on time to class. More money won’t ensure that a teacher will use the best methods… Better results must be the goal.”
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, delivered the following prepared remarks today at a Budget Committee hearing with Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the President’s fiscal year 2015 education budget request:
“Secretary Duncan, thank you for appearing before the Senate Budget Committee today to discuss the President’s budget request.
Ensuring that our nation’s children have a quality education is a goal that we all share. I am proud of Alabama’s progress in education. With little new money, using their Reading Initiative and their Math and Science Initiative, they have achieved remarkable success.
Washington does not educate children. More money alone does not improve learning. Better results must be the goal. You must know, Mr. Secretary, that your government is running out of money. Congress and the President agreed to certain spending limits, but now you are simply proposing to spend well above that. These are the spending caps the President himself signed into law just a few months ago. This is not acceptable. If you and the Administration want to spend more money on education, you must make it a priority, reducing spending somewhere else.
Simply proposing to break the spending limits is irresponsible and a political gesture, not a serious policy proposal. We must and will stick with the Ryan-Murray spending limits. The very future of our country and the quality of life for our children depends on wise management of our money today.
Overall, the President’s budget adds about $8 trillion to our nation’s debt. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this massive debt accumulation means annual interest payments will nearly quadruple over the next decade.
Last year, we paid our creditors $221 billion in interest on our debt. That’s more than 6 times what we spent on Pell Grants during that same year. Astoundingly, in 2024, one single year’s interest payment, according to CBO, will be $876 billion. Again: that’s just one year’s payment. The one-year debt interest payment in 2024 will be greater than the amount we’ll spend on your education budget over the next 10 years combined.
Interest must be paid. The huge demands of interest will steal money from all accounts, including education.
Deficits matter. Debt has consequences. If you truly want to support our nation’s children then we have to live within the limits that we have set for ourselves.
At the same time we must recognize that more money doesn’t mean better results. Some of the worst-performing schools in the country are also some of the most well-funded. Base education spending has increased 15 percent from 2008 to 2014, without a corresponding increase in scores—and you propose another $1.3 billion increase next year.
More federal money is not a substitute for the support of a family or community, for the value of a role model or mentor, or the quality of a great teacher. More money cannot make a student do his homework or show up on time to class. More money won’t ensure that a teacher will use the best methods.
We also owe our students a secure future when they graduate. We must work to ensure there are jobs waiting for them.
Nearly 1 in 2 recent college graduates is underemployed. But the Administration proposes to double the number of guest workers to fill jobs throughout the economy, including a huge increase in STEM guest workers, where it is said a critical shortage exists.
But contrary to the claims of various technology corporations, we actually have a surplus of STEM-trained American students who are looking for work. As Professor Hal Salzman of Rutgers recently wrote: “the nation graduates more than two times as many STEM students each year as find jobs in STEM fields. For the 180,000 or so openings annually, U.S. colleges and universities supply 500,000 graduates.”
Meanwhile, many of these guest worker visas are used to offshore American jobs. This cannot continue.
Across the board, we must do more to ensure that all American youth can find good jobs after they graduate.
- Here is what we should fundamentally do to improve the opportunities for our graduates:
- Reform education to better prepare students to enter the workforce
- Produce more American energy
- Eliminate all costly and wasteful regulations
- Make the tax code more globally competitive
- Ensure fair trade so our workers can compete on a level playing field
- Adopt an immigration policy that serves American workers
- Turn the welfare office into a job training center
- Streamline the government to make it leaner and more accountable, and
- Balance the federal budget to restore economic confidence”
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