House Budget Committee Hearing – “Budgeting for Education: The Role of Perkins Loans”

Ranking Member Paul Ryan – Opening Statement

Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling this hearing on the future of the Perkins Loan program.

We all share a commitment to investing in the next generation and preparing our workforce to lead in today’s competitive global economy.

I applaud the Administration for taking steps to promote accountability and reforms to address the unconscionable failures in some of our classrooms, and promote greater incentives to reward performance and success.

I also have concerns with efforts to further centralize decisions in Washington that would be best left to States, local school districts, teachers and parents – as well as the recent government takeover of the entire student loan industry.

While I look forward to discussing the proper role of the Federal government in making our world-class higher education system more competitive and more accessible to all Americans, we gather today in the House Budget Committee without a budget for the upcoming fiscal year – and without a clue on how to finance our commitments to priorities like defense, health and retirement security, and education.

The country faces $1.5 trillion deficits, adding to the $13 trillion of total debt. The entitlement tsunami coming our way will overwhelm the Federal budget and shred our critical social safety net if we fail to act.

Advocates of programs like Perkins Loans must take seriously the threat to national priorities if we fail to account for our looming fiscal crisis.

I am hopeful that today’s hearing can allow for a candid discussion on how the Federal government can promote a world-class education for our children – and how we can address the crushing debt burden we are passing to the next generation.

To those committed to continuing the rapid rise in spending for programs such as education, we should do so by making other trade-offs in the budget. And, we must begin to reform our entitlement programs so they can meet their critical missions, and give the next generation a more prosperous, more secure, debt-free nation.