An editorial in the Houston Chronicle brings up to date the story of Texas’ failure to pay the cost of educating students with disabilities.

“Imagine being a teacher and told not to bother trying to help a child who is having difficulty learning. That was happening routinely in Texas public schools before the legislature was shamed into eliminating an 8.5 percent cap the state had placed on special education enrollment.

“The federal Department of Education in January told the Texas Education Agency that the “target” it first imposed in 2004 violated federal laws requiring schools to serve all students. The cap wasn’t just illegal, it was morally reprehensible and shortsighted.

“The cap limited the aspirations of students with learning disabilities who didn’t get the help they needed, and shortchanged the state’s future by inadequately educating thousands of its children.

“The cap’s impact was reported last year in the Chronicle’s investigative series “Denied,” which pointed out that Houston had imposed an even more draconian 8 percent target for special education enrollment. “It became a nightmare,” said Attucks Middle School teacher Thomas Iocca.

“It’s a nightmare that won’t end any time soon for students who lost precious years of federally mandated assistance and interventions that could have helped them learn.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers are left with a fiscal headache as they try to find an additional $3.2 billion to spend on special education over the next three years to serve students previously denied assistance. Removing the cap is expected to add 189,000 special education students to public school rolls statewide.

Maybe the state should tap the nearly $11 billion Rainy Day Fund it’s been sitting on. Other issues need more cash too, including unpaid bills from Hurricane Harvey, Medicaid and an underfunded employee pension fund. But special education must be a top priority.