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( J.R.S. 19)

Offered by: Senator Doyle of Washington County, Senator Spaulding of Washington County and Senator Cummings of Washington County.

Whereas, it is the policy of the state of Vermont to ensure educational opportunities for all children, including children with disabilities, 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, special education costs in Vermont have risen from $51.3 million in fiscal year 1990 to $88.8 million in fiscal year 1996, and

Whereas, the federal government contributed only approximately seven percent of special education funding in the last fiscal year, which is 33 percent less than the promised 40 percent, and

Whereas, this lack of sufficient federal funding puts a heavy strain on all Vermont property taxpayers who are already overburdened trying to provide a quality education for Vermont students, and

Whereas, the heavy strain on Vermont property taxpayers is causing increasing conflict between community members and educational constituencies, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the Vermont General Assembly commend the three members of the VermontCongressional Delegation on their efforts to date on behalf of promoting educational issues, and be it further

Resolved: That the Vermont General Assembly requests that Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator James Jeffords, and Representative Bernard Sanders urge the U.S. Congress to fulfill its obligation to provide for adequate funding of special education, and be it further

Resolved: That the Congressional Delegation be further requested to urge more flexible use of federal special education funds, particularly that rules regarding non-supplanting of federal funds be relaxed to allow use of all federal funds, up to the 40 percent committed to in federal law, for some services already provided, and particularly that current federal regulations be rewritten so that states be allowed to distribute federal funds based on factors other than the number of students eligible for special education, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to each member of the Vermont Congressional Delegation, and to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, House Majority Leader Richard Armey, and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt.