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Special Education Funding in State Budget

Thursday, April 4, 2019

2019-21 Biennial Budget –Governor Evers' proposed budget makes an unprecedented $606 million investment in special education, increasing the reimbursement rate from 25 percent to 60 percent by 2020-21. Public schools are required by law to fund special education services, regardless of cost. Wisconsin’s primary special education aid, which has been frozen for over a decade, is the main way the state pays for special education costs. The funding gap between required costs and state funding is over $1 billion.

Local Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements will not be affected by the Governor’s proposal. Federal law requires a Local Education Agency (LEA) receiving funds under IDEA, Part B to budget at least the same amount of local funds or a combination of local and state funds each year. Within that combination of funds, if the state fund portion goes up, the local fund portion can go down as long as the total funding meets the prior year obligation. Since state and federal laws already require districts to fund special education services called for in a student’s IEP regardless of cost, district expenditures should not go up as a result of the Governor’s proposal.

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