Everyone likes tax cuts but it's high time Congress meets its responsibilities in helping the states fund special education, even if the size of the federal tax cut has to be trimmed.
More than 25 years ago the federal government pledged to pay 40 percent of the costs to educate children with disabilities. That was a promise that never was kept despite a parade of congressional candidates, over the years, who've been elected by proclaiming how they want education to be a top priority. U.S. senators and representatives have done nothing except give lip service to the concept of special education and the losers have been children whose school districts have had to use dollars from other education programs to make up the shortfall created by Congress.
The federal government's perpetual failure to meet its responsibilities in special education makes this situation the poster child for unfunded mandates.
Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., estimates the federal share of special education funding is 16 percent nationally and only 15 percent in Minnesota. Dayton is offering legislation that would make Congress live up to its promise, bringing more than $250 million for special education in Minnesota.
Minnesota isn't the only state suffering from budget shortfalls in these tough economic times. School districts across the U.S. will have to struggle to meet the needs of their students.
Congress should either live up to its promise of funding 40 percent of special education or have the courage to pass a resolution stating that it has no intention of doing so.
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