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(J.R.H. 181)

Offered by: Representatives Barney of Highgate, Angell of Randolph, Baker of West Rutland, Brooks of Montpelier, Brown of Walden, Cleland of Northfield, Corren of Burlington, Cross of Winooski, DePoy of Rutland City, Doyle of Richmond, Edwards of Swanton, Emmons of Springfield, Follett of Springfield, Fox of Essex, Freed of Dorset, Gervais of Enosburg, Ginevan of Middlebury, Gray of Barre Town, Heath of Westford, Helm of Castleton, Holmes of Bethel, Hooker of Rutland City, Houston of Ferrisburgh, Howrigan of Fairfield, Hube of Londonderry, Koch of Barre Town, Krasnow of Charlotte, Kreitzer of Rutland City, LaBarge of Grand Isle, Livingston of Manchester, Mallary of Brookfield, Marron of Stowe, Mazur of South Burlington, Mazzariello of Rutland City, McGrath of Ferrisburgh, Metzger of Milton, Miller of Shaftsbury, Morrissey of Bennington, Mullin of Rutland Town, Neiman of Georgia, Nitka of Ludlow, Nuovo of Middlebury, O'Donnell of Vernon, Osman of Plainfield, Parizo of Essex, Peaslee of Guildhall, Perry of Richford, Pike of Mendon, Quaid of Williston, Robb of Swanton, Rogers of Castleton, Schiavone of Shelburne, Severance of Colchester, Sheltra of Derby, Smith of New Haven, Suchmann of Chester, Sweaney of Windsor, Symington of Jericho, Towne of Berlin, Tracy of Burlington, Vincent of Waterbury, Vinton of Colchester, Willett of St. Albans City, Winters of Williamstown and Zuckerman of Burlington.

Whereas, special education costs in Vermont have risen from $51.3 million in fiscal year 1990 to an estimated $124 million in fiscal year 2000, 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, 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, it is the policy of the state of Vermont to ensure general and special educational opportunities for all children, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the General Assembly commends the three members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation on their efforts to promote 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 special education funding at the 40 percent level as has previously been committed, 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 J. Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Richard Armey, and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt.