On March 5, 2014, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ASHA's own member of Congress, along with five other members, introduced H.R. 4136, the IDEA Full Funding Act of 2014. If passed, the bill would gradually increase IDEA funding from its current annual appropriation of $11.6 billion to $37.2 billion by fiscal year 2024. Because IDEA is forward funded-meaning that current fiscal year funds are made available for the following school year, full funding would still be available on October 1, 2024, for fiscal year 2025.
In the 1970s, Congress committed to fully funding IDEA. Congress reaffirmed that commitment in 2004 when it reauthorized IDEA and President George W. Bush signed it into law. However, as of fiscal year 2014, current federal funding has shrunk to just over 16%. This forces states and local governments to shoulder the remaining 84% of the costs while complying with the many mandates in IDEA. For ASHA's school-based members, this situation results in larger caseloads, enormous paperwork burdens, little in-school support, uncompensated work after school hours, and limited or no time for collaboration, planning, or professional development.
Although the political and funding prospects for passage of H.R. 4136 are slim in this Congress, the bill allows ASHA members to reach out to their members of Congress and explain their concerns and burdens.
Along with Congressman Van Hollen, Congressmen David McKinley (R-WV), Tim Walz (D-MN), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and David Reichert (R-WA) cosponsored the bill. H.R. 4136 was referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee for further consideration.
Senator Tom Harkins (D-IA) told ASHA that he will introduce his version of the bill in the Senate later in March or in early April.
For more information about H.R. 4136, please visit Congressman Van Hollen's website or Congress.gov. For questions, please contact Neil Snyder, ASHA's director of federal advocacy, at email@example.com or 800-498-2071, ext. 5614.