SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, announces Senate Joint Resolution 8 (SJR 8) has unanimously passed the Senate. SJR 8 urges the United States Congress to uphold its end of the bargain and fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a program focusing on disabled students.
“All California students should be provided a quality education – it is one of the state’s highest priorities - but the federal government has not given us its promised share of the special education funding we badly need,” said Wilk. “This forces our schools to do more with less, which hurts all students, whether or not they have special needs.”
In 1975, Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act with the purpose of ensuring a free and appropriate public education is available to all children with disabilities, 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%.”
This year, United States Senator Chris Van Hollen (D – Maryland) has introduced a bill, S. 866, which will provide greater special education funding for schools, allowing Congress to meet its original 40% mark by the year 2029. SJR 8 strongly encourages Congress to pass S. 866 in the interest of students across California and the nation.
“Until Congress keeps its word and provides full funding for special education, the IDEA act will not be fully realized,” said Wilk. “We need to keep the pressure on Congress to pass S. 866 so that all children can have the opportunity to be educated and succeed in this country.”
SJR 8 will now go to the Assembly.