Hawai'i State News

Hirono, others introduce bill to fully fund special education

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U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), and more than 80 of their colleagues, in introducing the IDEA Full Funding Act.

This legislation would ensure Congress fulfills its commitment to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Congress passed IDEA to ensure that every child with a disability has access to educational opportunity, but since its passage, Congress has failed to provide the funding it promised.

“For almost 50 years, the federal government has failed to meet the promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, leaving many without access to the quality education they deserve,” said Sen. Hirono. “This legislation will require funding be provided for critical special education services and eliminate barriers faced by students with disabilities in Hawai‘i and across the country.”


Under IDEA, the federal government committed to pay 40% of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. However, that pledge has never been met, and current funding is at less than 13%.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the IDEA shortfall in the 2021-2022 school year nationwide was $23.92 billion. The IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular, mandatory increases in IDEA spending to meet the obligation to America’s children and schools. It is cosponsored by more than 20 Senators and over 60 House members.

This legislation is supported by over 60 national organizations, including by AASA – The School Superintendent Association, American Federation of Teachers, Council for Exceptional Children, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Center for Learning Disabilities, and National Education Association.


The legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The bill is co-led in the House by representatives Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Dean Phillips (D-MN), and Pete Stauber (R-MN). Additional cosponsors in the House include Representatives Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Becca Balint (D-VT), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Jasmine Crockett (D-TX), Jason Crow (D-CO), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Paul D. Tonko (D-NY).

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