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Kline Urges Increased Support for Students with Disabilities

House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) sent a letter urging the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services to focus on increasing funding for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) instead of supporting new and unproven programs.

IDEA Part B is designed to help fund efforts by states and school districts to improve educational access and services for students with disabilities. Current law authorizes the federal government to fund up to 40 percent of the additional costs of educating students with disabilities yet federal contributions have continuously failed to reach that level.

During a hearing with Education Secretary Arne Duncan earlier this week, Chairman Kline expressed his disappointment in the administration’s proposed IDEA appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.

“Considering the glut of new spending in the president’s budget, the lack of funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is simply appalling. Per the law, the federal government is supposed to fund up to 40 percent of the costs of educating students with special needs, but once again, the administration’s budget does not even come close to that figure,” Chairman Kline said. “I am concerned that instead of meeting our commitments and improving existing initiatives, the administration continues to propose more spending for new, untested programs.”

In the letter, Chairman Kline asked the subcommittee to make increasing IDEA Part B funding a top priority in the FY 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services and Related Agencies Appropriations Act:

Regrettably, recent years have brought steady decreases in the federal contribution. In FY 2013, the federal government is covering just 14.9 percent of the national average per pupil expenditure – and the Obama administration’s FY 2014 proposal again prioritizes pet projects, unauthorized programs, and new initiatives with no track record for success over meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

As our nation struggles with debt levels that have eclipsed the size of the entire U.S. economy, difficult choices must be made. We must stop wasting taxpayer dollars on new and ineffective programs and instead work toward meeting our basic obligation to ensure special needs children are prepared for success after high school.

To read the full letter, click here.

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