Supercommittee failure could hammer special education

While the recent failure of the Congressional Supercommittee means that major cuts to federal health care programs are unlikely in the near future, significant cuts loom for education programs affecting people with disabilities.

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Special Education Funding

For special education, that could mean $900 million in projected cuts.

The Congressional Supercommittee, created in August as part of the government’s last-minute debt ceiling deal, was tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade.

It failed even to create a proposal to present to Congress, triggering a new system of automatic budget cuts created as part of debt ceiling deal, as a backup plan if the Supercommittee fell short of its task.

The automatic cuts exempt Medicaid and Social Security, though Medicare providers will receive a two percent reduction in reimbursment rates. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that federal discretionary programs will implement across-the-board cuts of 7.8 percent next fiscal year, in order to to make up for the cost savings which were not created through the Congressional Supercommittee, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

Under those estimates, the Department of Education will need to cut its budget by an estimated $3.54 billion, with only the Pell Grant program exempted. Along with the special education reduction, School Improvement grants for poor performing schools and the Head Start program are also likely to take a hefty hit, with children with disabilities like receiving a disproportionate share of the burden.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities released a statement urging Congress to preserve programs for people with disabilities as it further continues to attempt to cut the federal budget deficit.

“Because the Committee was unable to enact a thoughtful, balanced and collaboratively developed deficit reduction package, we now face devastating mandatory cuts to many critical programs serving people with disabilities in sequestration,” the consortium stated. “The nation’s budget cannot be balanced on the backs of those with disabilities and chronic health conditions.”

Disability Rights Washington is a part of the National Disability Rights Network , one of more than 100 disability rights organizations that is part of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.