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Sequester Cuts Would Leave Texas Holding Tab for Special Ed

Eric Reyna for KUT News

Texas would have to spend up to $51 million on students with disabilities if across the board federal spending cuts known as the "sequester" take effect.  The Texas Education Agency’s chief grants administer Cory Green told lawmakers Monday that even without the federal funding, Texas would still be required by federal law to provide services to special education students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Green made the comments during a House committee meeting after a question from State Representative Bennett Ratliff(R-Coppell). 

“What I’m hearing is, our kids are still going to get the services. We’re going to ask the local taxpayers and the state taxpayers where the federal government’s going to be requiring it?" Coppell asked. 

Green responded: "In the IDEA program, the students must still receive the services. In some of the other programs, students may see reduced services.”

Those other programs include Title I, which provides federal money to schools with high percentages of low income students. Green said that program, which provides the largest chunk of federal cash to Texas classrooms, would also see the biggest cut. 

The White House says the sequester would put more than 900 teacher jobs at risk in Texas, not including the 620 positions that receive funding through the IDEA program for children with disabilities.  

“Most of these programs are labor intensive. We’re funding people with them, and if there are cuts, the cuts will fall on people," said Catherine Clark, an executive at the Texas Association of School Boards.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.