Hagel-Harkin Reintroduce Bill to Fund Federal Commitment to IDEA
April 19th, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) reintroduced legislation today to meet the federal government’s commitment to fund 40 percent of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Hagel and Harkin first introduced this legislation in 2001. Cosponsors of the Hagel-Harkin bill include Senators Coleman (R-MN), Collins (R-ME), Dodd (D-CT), Kennedy (D-MA), Lieberman (I-CT), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Roberts (R-KS), Schumer (D-NY), Snowe (R-ME), and Warner (R-VA).
“When the federal government created IDEA it committed to funding 40 percent of the costs. For over 30 years, it has failed to meet its obligation and pushed the costs down to states and local governments. This is wrong and it takes resources away from education needs in each state. While we have made progress in increasing IDEA funding over the last 10 years, the federal government is still not close to meeting its commitment. This bipartisan legislation takes a responsible approach to fixing this problem and freeing up critical education funds in states like Nebraska,” Hagel said.
IDEA guarantees a free and appropriate public education to students with special needs. When Congress passed IDEA in 1975 it pledged to provide states and local school districts with 40 percent of the funding needed to support this mandate. Sen. Hagel has worked to fully fund IDEA since arriving in the Senate in 1997, and under his leadership federal funding for IDEA has increased by $6.9 billion. In Fiscal Year 1998, federal funding for IDEA was $3.8 billion, or 10.5 percent of the authorized level. In Fiscal Year 2007 federal funding for IDEA was $10.7 billion, or 17.2 percent of the authorized level.
Despite efforts from Hagel and Harkin to fully fund IDEA over the last 10 years, federal funds for IDEA have not exceeded 19 percent of the authorized level. This leaves state governments and local school districts to pick up the tab for this federally mandated program, taking away funds for other local education needs.
The Hagel-Harkin bill would fully-fund IDEA in seven years through mandatory annual phased-in spending increases, until federal funding reaches $30.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2015. The bill would free up local and state funds that had previously been used to meet IDEA requirements for other important education priorities. Therefore, as the federal IDEA share grows, local school districts will have increased flexibility for all their education programs.
The Hagel-Harkin bill is supported by the following groups: American Art Therapy Association; American Association of School Administrators; American Association of University Women; American Counseling Association; American Dance Therapy Association; American Federation of Teachers; American Music Therapy Association; American Occupational Therapy Association; American School Counselor Association; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; Association for Career and Technical Education; Association of University Centers on Disabilities; Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders; Council of Great City Schools; Easter Seals; Higher Education Consortium for Special Education; International Reading Association; Learning Disabilities Association of America; National Alliance of Black School Educators; National Association of Elementary School Principals; National Association of Federally Impacted Schools; National Association of Pupil Services Administrators; National Association of School Psychologists; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Association of State Directors of Special Education; National Down Syndrome Society; National Education Association; National Parent Teacher Association; National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition; National School Boards Association; People for the American Way; School Social Work Association of America; Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children; The Advocacy Institute.