Sending Office: Honorable Jared Polis
Sent By:


Request for Signature(s)


Meeting the Federal Government’s Commitment to Funding Special Education

Dear Colleague,

More than four decades ago, Congress pledged to pay up to 40 percent of the excess cost of educating students with disabilities. Yet today, the federal government covers less than 16 percent of these special education costs. The Defending Special Education
Students and Families Act would finally live up to that nearly 40-year old promise by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities in Education (IDEA) Act.

The Defending Special Education Students and Families Act would gradually increase federal special education funding to its 40 percent share (“full funding”) by 2022. In Fiscal Year 2017, the federal government appropriated about $12 billion for IDEA Part
B grants to states, which covers approximately 16 percent of the additional cost of educating children with disabilities. The legislation would increase IDEA funding over the next five years, culminating in an annual federal appropriation of nearly $34.5 billion
by 2022 and a commitment to keep federal funding at the 40 percent level going forward.

IDEA funding would be fully offset by collecting revenue in excess of the Administration’s request for the Department of Defense (DoD).  For FY2018, President Trump requested $603 billion dollars for the DoD.  However, the House-passed spending bill would
give the DoD $658 billion, far exceeding the amount requested by the President. This extraordinary amount of additional money should instead be used to fulfill Congress’ 40-year old commitment to fully fund IDEA and support the needs of special education students.

It is even more important to fulfill this promise as districts continue to enroll more students with special needs.  In fact, from 1990 to 2015, the number of students with disabilities enrolled in public schools increased by two million students.  Students
with disabilities cost an average of $16,921 each year. Yet, the federal government falls below their 40% promise creating a $10.6 billion shortfall for states and local districts that the Federal government said it would fund through IDEA. The increasingly
high burden of special education costs also makes other cuts to general education even more painful. It is time that the federal government pays its fair share so all students can have access to an effective education. The Defending Special Education Students
and Families Act shows that such critical funding expansions are feasible and practical.

Please join us in this effort to fulfill congress’ commitment to fund the needs of special education programs and create learning environments in which each and every child can learn and thrive. To cosponsor the
Defending Special Education Students and Families Act, or if you have any questions, please contact Leonardo “Leo” Rodriguez in Rep. Polis’ office at




Jared Polis

Member of Congress


Related Legislative Issues
Selected legislative information:Civil Rights, Education
Related Bill Information
Bill Type: H.R.
Bill Type: 4602
Special Note:
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