Reps. Jared Huffman, Van Hollen, McKinley, Walz, Gibson, Reichert Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Boost Special Education Funding

January 27, 2015

Washington, DC –Today Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), David McKinley (R-WV), Tim Walz (D-MN), Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Dave Reichert (R-WA) reintroduced the bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act. In 1975, Congress took the critical step of passing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), providing a promise that every child with disabilities would have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. At that time, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. However, that pledge has never been met, and current funding is at just 16.1 percent. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular increases in IDEA spending to finally meet our commitment to America’s children and schools.

“We are proud to introduce the IDEA Full Funding Act to ensure that the federal government pays its fair share of the costs of educating students with disabilities. Forty years ago, the government committed to supporting our students and the teachers who work to help every American child reach their full potential,” they said. “This legislation will guarantee funding increases for IDEA to ensure that our schools fulfill the promise of a first-class education for every child.”

“Forty years ago, Congress made a promise to the Nation, to students with disabilities and their families, and to educators to invest in special education. But that promise has gone unfulfilled. Today, I applaud the bipartisan leadership of Representatives Van Hollen, Huffman, Walz, Gibson, McKinley, and Reichert to fulfill this promise and provide children with disabilities and schools with the resources they need and deserve. Our parent community stands ready to support the IDEA Full Funding Act,” stated James H. Wendorf, Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities. 

“It has been nearly 40 years since Congress pledged to help states and local schools fund the cost of educating our country’s students with disabilities. Sadly, Congress has never come close to fulfilling that worthy goal. We are proud to support the bipartisan leadership shown today with the introduction of the IDEA Full Funding Act, which would provide our students with the resources they need to succeed. We thank Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), David McKinley (R-WV), Tim Walz (D-MN), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) for their leadership in support of students with disabilities,” said Mary Kusler, Director of Government Relations, National Education Association.

“This important federal legislation now before us is vital toward ensuring that our nation honors its obligation to students with disabilities,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association. “NSBA fully supports the IDEA Full Funding Act, and applauds its focus on creating a long-term, 10-year plan that will adequately fund the federal share of costs for special education. Improving educational outcomes and raising student achievement for students with disabilities is crucial.”

American Association of School Administrators Executive Director, Daniel Domenech said, “Full funding of IDEA remains AASA’s top legislative priority. In fully realizing its habitually underfunded commitment to students with disabilities, Congress actually serves all students. One act of funding provides a critical and necessary level of support for students with disabilities while relieving local school districts from the fiscal burden of covering the chronic shortfall, freeing up and returning local dollars to the general budget, to serve all students. AASA remains strongly committed to this policy and applauds Congress members Van Hollen, Huffman, McKinley, Gibson, Walz, and Reichert for their continued leadership on this important issue.”

Last Congress, Huffman was an original cosponsor of the IDEA Full Funding Act.