Duncan Testifies On 2013 Department of Education Budget

Earlier this month Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Committee on Appropriations regarding the annual federal budget. He said that the Obama Administration’s 2013 education budget demonstrated their commitment to educating their way to a better economy, while reducing spending and improving efficiency.

“We must come together as a country to make sound, bipartisan investments in education,” Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said earlier today at a budget hearing on Capitol Hill. “It is unconscionable for us to ask a generation of students to pay the price for adult political dysfunction.”

The budget includes provisions for an increase in Pell Grants that help to support nearly 10 million students nationwide, while freezing the interest rate on student loans at 3.4%. If the budget is rejected and Congress doesn’t do anything about this issue then the rate will double this summer. The government is also aiming to dramatically increase the number of work-study jobs available within the next five years

In total there is a $1.7 billion increase proposed in the Education Department’s discretionary budget for 2013, much of which will go to Higher Education. Much of the money is also being funneled into new programs and will not add money to existing programs.

Democrats asked why the money would not be poured into programs already in place to help low-income students: “Why is the administration investing in new, untested programs instead of giving it to successful programs?” asked Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, Democrat of California, who said she was disappointed that TRIO programs were level-funded in the president’s budget proposal.

Republicans are unhappy at the increase in mandatory spending such as the $8 billion proposed to be spent on community college spending, and would prefer Pell Grants be funded by discretionary funding rather than mandatory.

“Is this important enough that we borrow from Red China to pay for it and give the bill to our grandkids?” asked Representative Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican and chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

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