TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly and the Legislature’s Republican and Democratic leadership appealed Thursday to Congress for increased federal appropriations to special education programs and for adherence to financial commitments made decades ago to the states.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act required the federal government to fund up to 40% of a state’s average per-pupil expenditure on special education. Congress never met that target, leaving federal aid to states for special education hovering around 15% of average cost.
The bipartisan group of Kansas lawmakers argued in a letter to Congress the shortfall in federal aid placed an undue financial burden on school districts and taxpayers. In Kansas, the state supplemented special education appropriations with about $300 million annually. Special education expenditures not directly covered through state or federal budgeting would fall to local school districts.