Sacramento – The California Senate has adopted Senate Joint Resolution 19 (SJR 19), authored by Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), calling on Congress to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a program focusing on disabled students.
“There is no more important service that the state provides than education,” Wilk said. “When it comes to our students with disabilities, the federal government has completely failed in its partnership with the states by not keeping its promised funding levels. School districts are forced to make up the shortfall which hinders our ability to provide a high quality education to all students – those with and without disabilities.”
In 1975, Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act with the purpose of ensuring all children with disabilities have available to them a free and appropriate public education, emphasizing services designed to meet their unique needs. It set up a mechanism to fund a matching program that would help us pay for these costly, specialized educational services.
In 2004, Congress went even further and enacted the IDEA Act, which set a minimum of 40 percent federal fund-matching for the average per-pupil expenditure in public elementary schools and secondary schools to pay for services for children with disabilities. That act has yet to be fully funded.
According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, between 2015 to 2016 “the federal government provided California a little over a billion dollars for special education costs that represented a little less than 10 percent of total special education expenditures in the state, so roughly speaking we would be talking about an increase along the lines of three to four billion dollars in federal special education aid in order to get up to the 40 percent.”
“The IDEA Act was a promise, not a suggestion. This resolution sends a message to our federal counterparts that California and its children with disabilities rely on their help to fund educational opportunities,” Wilk said. “California’s message is clear today – if the federal government continues to break its promises it will continue to have real, harmful impacts on the lives of many of our children.”
The Secretary of the Senate will now transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Chairs of the Senate Committees on the Budget and Appropriations, the Chairs of the House Committees on the Budget and Appropriations, each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States, and the United States Secretary of Education.