Mike Leavitt on Civil Rights
Director of the E.P.A.; former Republican UT Governor
As you prepare the budget resolution for the coming fiscal year, the nation’s Governors urge Congress to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). When the law, formerly known as the Education of the Handicapped Act, was passed in 1975, full funding was defined as 40 percent of the costs. Currently, the federal government’s contribution amounts to only 13 percent, and states are funding the balance to assist school districts in providing special education and related services. Although Governors strongly support providing the necessary services and support to help all students succeed, the costs associated with implementing IDEA are placing an increased burden on states.
We are currently reallocating existing state funds from other programs or committing new funds to ensure that students with disabilities are provided a “free and appropriate public education.” In some cases, we are taking funds from existing education programs to pay for the costs of educating our students with disabilities because we believe that all students deserve an equal opportunity to learn. Therefore, Governors urge Congress to honor its original commitment and fully fund 40 percent of Part B services as authorized by IDEA so the goals of the act can be achieved.
In 1976 the National Governors Association expressed support for ratification and implementation of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would constitutionally guarantee full citizenship rights and opportunities for women. In 1982 the drive for ratification fell short, and efforts to initiate the amendatory process were taken.
The National Governors Association reaffirms its support for the principles embodied in the Equal Rights Amendment, i.e., that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on the basis of gender.
The nation’s Governors urge you to support the Indian gaming amendment sponsored by Senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Senator Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.). This amendment would ensure that the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior could not use federal funds to approve Class III gaming in the absence of a tribal-state compact, as required by law. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) requires that tribes negotiate compacts with states as a condition for conducting Class III gaming in that state.
The National Governors’ Association is currently in discussions with Indian tribes and the U.S. Departments of Interior and Justice about a wide range of tribal-state issues, including Indian gaming. The nation’s Governors strongly believe that no statute or court decision provides the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior with the authority to intervene in disputes over compacts between Indian tribes and states about casino gambling on Indian lands. The secretary’s inherent authority includes a responsibility to protect the interests of Indian tribes, making it impossible for the secretary to avoid a conflict of interest or to exercise objective judgment in disputes between states and tribes. We respectfully urge Congress to adopt the Graham-Enzi amendment to ensure the integrity of IGRA.
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