By Shaun Heasley
January 28, 2015
Lawmakers in Congress are renewing efforts to ensure that the federal government lives up to its promise to fully fund special education.
|Bills introduced in the U.S. House and Senate call for the|
federal government to dramatically increase funding for
special education services. (Thinkstock)
A bill introduced Tuesday in the U.S. House of Representatives calls for Uncle Sam to increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act incrementally.
Congress committed to pay 40 percent of the cost — a level that is considered to be full funding — back when IDEA first became law in 1975, but has never lived up to that threshold and currently covers just 16 percent. States and localities are left to pick up the remainder of the tab.
Under the proposed IDEA Full Funding Act, the federal government would increase spending over a decade, ultimately footing 40 percent of the nation’s bill for special education.
The legislation introduced this week comes with bipartisan support. Co-sponsors of the measure include U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash.
“Forty years ago, the government committed to supporting our students and the teachers who work to help every American child reach their full potential,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “This legislation will guarantee funding increases for IDEA to ensure that our schools fulfill the promise of a first-class education for every child.”
A similar bill was introduced earlier this month in the U.S. Senate by Sen. David Vitter, R-La.
In years past, lawmakers have also brought forth legislation to fully fund IDEA, but the measures have never gained much traction.