NO. R-28.  JOINT RESOLUTION urging Congress to increase the federal expenditure for special education to 40 percent.

(J.R.H. 7)

Offered by:  Representatives Rodgers of Glover, Allard of St. Albans Town, Amidon of Charlotte, Aswad of Burlington, Bolduc of Barton, Botzow of Pownal, Branagan of Georgia, Brennan of Colchester, Donaghy of Poultney, Donahue of Northfield, Edwards of Brattleboro, Fallar of Tinmouth, Fisher of Lincoln, Hingtgen of Burlington, Hummel of Underhill, Kiss of Burlington, Kitzmiller of Montpelier, Krawczyk (Albert) of Bennington, Larson of Burlington, Lippert of Hinesburg, McAllister of Highgate, Molloy of Arlington, Myers of Essex, Nease of Johnson, Nuovo of Middlebury, Obuchowski of Rockingham, Otterman of Topsham, Parent of St. Albans City, Partridge of Windham, Pillsbury of Brattleboro, Rogers of Castleton, Shand of Weathersfield, Tracy of Burlington, Winters of Swanton and Zuckerman of Burlington.

Whereas, it is the policy of the State of Vermont to ensure general and special education opportunities for all children, and

Whereas, special education costs in Vermont rose from $51.3 million in fiscal year 1990 to an estimated $153.8 million in fiscal year 2002, and

Whereas, there are over 13,000 students in Vermont who receive special education services, and

Whereas, the federal government has committed itself to provide 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure in public elementary and secondary schools for funding special education programs (see 34 C.F.R. § 300.701(a)(1): “the maximum entitlement is equal to the number of children with disabilities aged 3 through 21 in the State who are receiving special education and related services, multiplied by 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure in public elementary and secondary schools in the United States”), and

Whereas, the federal government passed the “Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995” (P.L. 104-4, March 22, 1995, 109 Stat. 48) which stated that “the Federal Government should not shift certain costs to the States, and the States should end the practice of shifting costs to local governments, which forces many local governments to increase property taxes,” and

Whereas, since 1983, the federal government has short‑changed Vermont by $248,000,000.00 in special education funding, and

Whereas, the federal government contributed only approximately seven percent of special education funding in the last fiscal year, which is substantially less than the promised 40 percent, and

Whereas, the federal government’s failure to appropriate special education funding at the level that it is legally committed to expend places a heavy strain on all Vermont property taxpayers who are already overburdened trying to provide a quality education for Vermont students, and, unfortunately, is exacerbating the conflict between local property taxpayers and educational constituencies, and

Whereas, in response to Vermont’s, and every other state’s, financial burdens that are directly attributed to funding federally-mandated special education programs, U.S. Senator James Jeffords has announced that he will lead a bipartisan effort to increase special education funding to the 40 percent level, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly urges President George W. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to immediately increase federal special education funding to 40 percent, the level to which Congress previously committed the federal government, and be it further

Resolved:  That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to President George W. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.