Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 19 (SJR 19) today calling on Congress to uphold its end of the bargain and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a program focusing on disabled students. The measure passed the Senate 37-0 and is headed to the State Assembly for consideration.
“March is Disability Awareness Month. What a perfect time to remind Congress of its promise to children with disabilities,” said Wilk. “This resolution urges the federal government to provide what was promised; essential funding. Generations of children have gone without while the federal government looks the other way. It is time for the feds to provide what was promised.”
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%.”
“The IDEA Act was a promise, not a suggestion. I hope that this resolution will send a message to our federal counterparts that California and its children with disabilities rely on their help to fund educational opportunities,” concluded Wilk. “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.”