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Budget Update: IDEA not Fully Funded, but Special Ed Research Increases

budget-update-jan2014A few months ago, we and 3,000 of you called on Congress to stop making cuts to education and to bring funding levels back to where they were before sequestration happened. Last year, sequestration caused $2.5 billion in cuts to federal education programs. Then, in December of 2013, the Murray-Ryan budget deal promised to restore 87% of the education cuts that the sequester caused.

Now, Congress has passed the budget and has determined how much money will go to each program. Despite increases in all areas compared to 2013, we still won’t see all of our funding completely restored in the education world in 2014 or 2015.

How Are Special Education Programs Affected by the New Budget?

  • IDEA Part B (which provides grants to states for special education) was set at over $11.57 billion in 2012. This year, IDEA Part B will receive $11.47B, which is more than it received during sequestration, but still $105 million under its pre-sequester levels.
  • IDEA Part C (which provides money for early childhood, infants, and families) will receive a total of around $438.5 million, which is only $18.8 million more than it received during sequestration, and still $20 million less than its pre-sequester levels.
  • Section 619 (which provides funding for preschool programs) will receive $353 million, which is the exact amount it received during sequestration. This program is still almost $20 million below it pre-sequester level.

We still have work to do to get these programs fully funded. In 2013, special education funding was at the lowest it had been in 12 years. Without this critical funding, schools will have an even more difficult time providing services to students with Individualized Education Programs.

The Budget Will Boost Funding for Special Education Research The good news in all of this is that special education research will be getting $54 million this year, which is a $6.7 million increase from last year, and is even more than it received before sequestration. This is great news for the special education community! We are pleased to see that Congress is working on restoring the large cut to this program. We need to ensure that research is funded and our children have access to the best evidence-based services so they can succeed.

Meghan Casey Meghan Casey is the Policy Research & Advocacy Associate at NCLD. She is part of the Public Policy and Advocacy team which implements NCLD’s legislative strategy in Washington, D.C., and advances government policies that support the success of individuals with learning disabilities in school, at work and in life.