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Kaine Joins Van Hollen in Introducing Bill to Fully Fund Special Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in introducing the IDEA Full Funding Act, legislation that would ensure Congress fulfills its commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 1975, Congress passed IDEA to ensure that every child with a disability has access to educational opportunities. Under IDEA, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per person expenditure for special education. However, that pledge has never been met, and current funding is at less than 13 percent. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular, mandatory increases in IDEA spending to finally meet our obligation to America’s children and schools.

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is underfunded, leaving many students with disabilities behind. We’ve got to fully fund the IDEA to help schools offer the special education, services, and supports that students need to succeed. Every child deserves a high-quality education,” said Senator Kaine.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the IDEA shortfall in the 2021-2022 school year nationwide was $23.92 billion.

Kaine has long supported the IDEA and other efforts to expand educational opportunities for students with disabilities. Through the American Rescue Plan, which Kaine helped pass, Virginia K-12 schools received $2.11 billion to address learning loss following the pandemic. A portion of these funds were targeted to provide resources through the IDEA. Kaine has introduced the bipartisan Preparing and Returning Education Professionals (PREP Act) to address teacher and principal shortages, including in high-need subject areas like special education.

Joining Kaine and Van Hollen in cosponsoring the legislation are Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Companion legislation is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and is led by Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA-2).

The IDEA Full Funding Act is supported by AASA – The School Superintendent Association, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Council for Exceptional Children, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Education Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Music Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Printing House for the Blind, American Psychological Association Services, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Therapeutic Recreation Association, Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), Association of CA School Administrators, Association of Educational Service Agencies, Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE), Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), Association of University Centers of Disabilities, Autism Society of America, Autistic People of Color Fund (APOC), Autism Self-Advocacy Network, Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, CA Small School Districts' Association, California County Superintendents, California School Boards Association, CAST, Center for Learner Equity, Coalition for Adequate Funding for Special Education (California), CommunicationFIRST, Council for Learning Disabilities, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of the Great City Schools, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Division for Early Childhood of the CEC, Division of Learning Disabilities - Council for Exceptional Children, Future Robotics, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE),  IDEA Infants and Toddlers Coordinators Association (ITCA), Learning Disabilities Association of America, Los Angeles Unified School District, Moms of Black and Brown Children, National Association for Music Education, National Association for Pupil Transportation, National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators, National Association of School Boards, National Association of School Nurses, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPEID), National Disability Rights Network(NDRN), National Down Syndrome Congress, National Down Syndrome Society, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National School Boards Association, Perkins School for the Blind, San Diego Unified School District, School Social Work Association of America, TASH, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (TED), The Advocacy Institute, The Arc of the United States, and The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies.

Full text of the bill is available here.