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Federal Special Education Budget Gets Initial Boost

A budget proposal approved with a 10-7 vote today by a U.S. Senate subcommittee would boost special education spending for students age 3 to 22 by $100 million.

However that and other proposed increases to special education spending, while promising to the disability community, face the hurdle of approval by the full Senate Appropriations committee later this week, and eventually, all of Congress.

The proposed increase to special education spending for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act would mean a total budget of $677 million for these students, and it would get the federal investment in special education a little closer to 40 percent of the cost. That's something advocates have been clamoring for since it was introduced as a possibility more than 35 years ago. Current spending levels put the federal share of special education spending at about 16 percent, with districts and states picking up the rest of the tab.

The subcommittee also voted to increase spending on infants and toddlers with disabilities by $20 million, which would bring the budget for the Part C program to $462 million for the 2013 fiscal year.

Last, but not least, the National Center for Special Education Research, which experienced a 30 percent budget cut last year, would gain back half of what it lost—$10 million—under the proposal. That would bring NCSER's budget to about $60 million. Earlier today, the Council for Exceptional Children hosted a briefing at which they made a case for restoring funding for special education research.

More details about the subcommittee's proposal for all education programs will be coming soon to Education Week's Politics K-12 blog.

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