Special Education To Get Boost Under Budget Deal
Special education is set to see a rise in federal funding under a bipartisan agreement to avert a government shutdown.
Grants to states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will go up $90 million to reach $12 billion as part of the deal reached over the weekend, which still must be voted on by Congress.
The increase comes as part of a $1 trillion agreement to fund the federal government through September.
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The gains for special education are relatively small overall, advocates say.
“It’s always good news to see an increase,” said Katy Beh Neas, executive vice president for public affairs at Easterseals. “However, if you divide $90 million by 6 million kids, it’s basically an increase of $15 per kid.”
Nonetheless, Kim Hymes at the National Center for Learning Disabilities said that even though the federal contribution will only account for 16 percent of special education costs — far short of the 40 percent Congress promised when IDEA was originally authorized — any growth in spending on kids with disabilities sends a message.
“We know given this political climate that the outcome could have been far worse,” Hymes said.
Beyond special education, the deal includes additional funds for the National Institutes of Health and vocational rehabilitation.
Spending on respite care, state councils on developmental disabilities, university centers for excellence, protection and advocacy, disability employment policy, independent living centers and programs for young children with disabilities are flat-funded in the plan.
Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, said it’s good news for people with disabilities that the budget agreement did not include any across-the-board cuts to labor, health or education programs.
“While it does not deal with inflation, it allows critical programs to go forward,” Decker said. “There were no attacks on programs that enforce the civil rights of persons with disabilities and no direct assault on disability programs in general.”