Texas May Owe Feds $223 Million for Shortchanging Special Ed

Texas State Capitol Building in Austin

Texas State Capitol Building in Austin Shutterstock

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Massachusetts city council won’t skimp on laundry units for firefighters… Phoenix police make arrest in fifth road-rage attack in the last three weeks … More hay going to Midwest to help flooded farmers.

Texas may owe the federal government $223 million in fines for underfunding special education, according to revised estimates made by the state for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal government sued Texas and won after state lawmakers reduced the special education budget in 2012. Officials last fall had told lawmakers they would end up owing $33 million. Lawmakers have just a few weeks left in the legislative session this year to rearrange the state budget to spend more on its share on special education and avoid additional fines. “This is an opportunity to correct past wrongs,” Steven Aleman, a policy specialist with Disability Rights Texas, told the Houston Chronicle. “If there’s a window, it’s very quickly closing.” The Texas Education Agency is working with the U.S. Department of Education and the state Legislature to see how if it can lower penalties it will have to pay. [Houston Chronicle; Texas Tribune]

FIREFIGHTERS | Attleboro, Massachusetts, Mayor Paul Heroux this week requested $22,500 for a fire department washer and dryer. The City Council is not happy. They point to the fact that Fire Chief Scott Lachance asked for two washers and two dryers and they want the mayor to meet that request, especially given that the machines are designed to remove carcinogenic chemicals and other dangerous materials that collect on firefighter clothing. “When we have individuals retiring or falling ill with occupational cancer, and we’re not even providing them with the equipment to prevent that, it’s terrible in my opinion,” said Council Vice President Heather Porreca, who is eyeing a run for mayor. [Sun Chronicle]

ROAD RAGE | Phoenix police this weekend arrested a suspect in a road rage shooting that took the life of a 10-year-old girl. ABC15 TV reported that the shooting was the seventh Phoenix-area road rage attack this year and the fifth in the last three weeks.  [ABC 15]

PARENT CHILD | Advocates for Vermont’s parent child centers are trying to push $1 million in assistance through the legislature, saying the money is needed to help with maintenance of the centers that work with parents of young children. [VTDigger]

HAY FOR FARMERS | Farm aid volunteers hauled and distributed more hay over the weekend to farmers hurt by the recent floods in the Midwest. [Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan]

John Tomasic is a journalist who lives in Seattle.

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