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Press Release · September 17, 2003

Federal Formula Grants and California: Education Programs for Disabled Children

On September 30, the federal law governing special education for children—the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) — is set to expire. Congress is currently working to revise this nearly $10 billion law. IDEA funding is important to California: In fiscal year 2003, the state will receive nearly 10.5 percent of IDEA grant funding — a total of more than $1 billion.

Federal Formula Grants and California: Education Programs for Disabled Children examines the mechanics of the IDEA formulas that determine funding levels for California and other states, and it analyzes the state-by-state effects of formula-change scenarios. For example, California guarantees education services for disabled children through age 18, while some other states provide services through later ages. Because the law provides an incentive for states to revise the age level upward, California’s funding growth will soon begin to slow relative to that of other states.

This report is the fifth in an ongoing series reviewing California’s share of federal formula grant programs. The next report in the series, scheduled for release in October, will examine the Head Start program. The series was developed at the request of the bipartisan leadership of California’s congressional delegation and is produced by PPIC in collaboration with the California Institute for Federal Policy Research.

We hope you find this and future reports valuable, and we welcome your feedback as we seek to improve the public debate regarding this important subject. If you have any questions, please contact us by phone (Abby: 415/291-4436; Victoria: 415/291-4412) or email (; You can reach author Tim Ransdell, Executive Director of the California Institute, at 202/546-3700 or

The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett. PPIC does not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor does it endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office.