Rep. Huffman Applauds $1 Billion Increase for Special Education in House Funding Bill

May 20, 2019

Washington, D.C.- Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) helped secure an additional $1 billion in the House federal funding proposal for the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), over both last year’s funding level and President Trump’s budget request, which would represent the special education program’s largest increase in funding since 2004.

 Rep. Huffman led a bipartisan letter signed by over 150 members that urged the Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee to increase funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Act to $13.4 billion. The Subcommittee included a $1 billion funding bump for the program in its funding bill for Fiscal Year 2020, which has now been approved by the Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee.

 “All students deserve access to a free and appropriate public education—that’s the promise of federal law.” said Rep. Huffman. “But Congress and the President have repeatedly failed to meet the federal commitment to children with disabilities. This funding increase is an important step in the right direction, and I am grateful to Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro for answering the call in this bill. I will keep pushing to fully fund IDEA so that we support children with special needs, their families, and their schools.”

 “AASA applauds Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro and the House Labor Health Human Services Education (LHHS) Committee for prioritizing investment in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as part of their recently passed FY20 LHHS appropriations bill,” said Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director, AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “By providing a more than $1 billion (8%) increase to the program, the committee signals its commitment to moving Congress toward realizing its commitment to fund 40% of the additional cost associated with educating students with special needs, and uses the annual appropriations process to advance this top priority.”

 “This historic investment will benefit all students, including those with disabilities who deserve access to a safe, nurturing and quality learning environment,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “AFSCME members across the country work with students with disabilities, driving their buses to get them safely to and from school, assisting them in the classroom and working to ensure they have equal access to a good education and a bright future. We commend the members of Congress who are showing leadership to protect and expand vital services our children need to succeed.”  

 “NASDSE is pleased the House FY20 LHHS bill recognizes the importance of meaningfully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),” said Valerie C. Williams, Director of Government Relations, National Association of the State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE). “Congress passed the IDEA to ensure that every child with a disability has an opportunity to receive a quality public education.  This increase moves forward, the promise Congress made to pay 40% of the average per pupil costs for special education.”

"For far too long, Congress has not lived up to its commitment to educate students with learning and attention issues. The National Center for Learning Disabilities is pleased to see the increased investment in IDEA funding and the prioritization of students with learning disabilities," said Lindsay Jones, CEO, National Center for Learning Disabilities. "The legislation's passage out of subcommittee represents a renewed investment that offers an opportunity to continue building an education system that prepares every student for the global market of the 21st century."

“The federal government made a promise more than 40 years ago to help children with special needs,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Unfortunately, it has never fulfilled the promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Yet the needs of students with Down syndrome or dyslexia, or who are in a wheelchair, don’t disappear just because Congress hasn’t provided funding for IDEA. In fact, the needs only grow. So today, we join with Rep. Jared Huffman in celebrating the House appropriations bill that takes a step toward meeting that promise. The bill provides a lifeline to children with special needs who have suffered far too long from chronic underfunding and have gone to schools that lack the staff and resources necessary for them to feel safe and welcome. House Democrats are showing real commitment to our nation’s students and are truly working to fund our future.”

 "ASBO International strongly supports the House’s proposal to increase IDEA funding, because doing so will free up local district dollars to invest in equally critical programs to support our students -- from improving instruction and reducing class sizes, to increasing staff salaries and fixing school facilities,” said David J. Lewis, Executive Director, Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). “Unfunded education mandates are a major issue for our school districts. Regardless of the shortfall in IDEA funding our schools receive, they must still provide quality special education services. So, the question is, at what cost? If adequate funding is not provided, resources must be diverted from non-special needs students to deliver those services. Is this the trade-off we wish to impose on our schools?"

"Congress has failed to meet its commitment to provide 40 percent of the additional cost associated with educating students with special needs since the Individuals with Disabilities with Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law in 1975," said Joan Wade, Executive Director, Association of Educational Service Agencies. "The chronic underfunding of the program places significant funding pressure on educational service agencies and the local school districts they serve. We were proud to support the IDEA Full Funding Act when it was introduced this Congress, and we commend Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro for providing a significant level of support and priority investment. The proposed $1 billion increase represents a nearly 8 percent increase over FY19, and is a significant step in the right direction for helping to shore up federal investment." 

“The National School Boards Association applauds the House Appropriations Committee’s Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (H.R. 2740), and urges swift passage of this measure,” stated Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director and CEO of NSBA. “Our membership has prioritized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other critical programs that are valuable resources in raising student achievement and advancing equity. H.R. 2740 would provide sound investments in education, including a significant increase in IDEA that would help thousands of school districts address the unique needs of more than 6.9 million students with disabilities. Consistent with the goal of the bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act, this appropriations bill represents Congress’ commitment to its promise to fund the federal share of investments in IDEA.”

This year’s bump represents a nearly 8% increase over last year’s final IDEA funding figure, and would mean the first increase in the average per pupil expenditure under the program in five years, after it had been declining for all those years.  

 In 1975, Congress passed IDEA and promised to pay 40% of the additional costs associated with educating students with disabilities to ensure that every child with a disability has access to educational opportunity. This law was a historic step forward, but since its passage Congress has failed to provide the funding promised under this bill. Earlier this year, Rep. Huffman introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would finally ensure Congress' commitment to fully fund the federal commitment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).