Thu January 26, 2006
Napolitano Issues 2nd English Learner Veto
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – The veto by Gov. Janet Napolitano came less than 24 hours after she vetoed the first bill. Napolitano said it had many of the same flaws as the earlier one, including new credits to let corporations give some of their state tax obligations to help send children to private and parochial schools. But the governor also made it clear she believes that the financing scheme
approved by the Republican controlled Legislature would not comply with the order by U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins to adequately fund programs to teach English.
(I regret that the Legislature is not focused on the children and classrooms that are the subject of our federal court requirements and instead sent me a bill that had numerous deficiencies on it.)
The move angered Senate President Ken Bennett. He said the governor has said on several occasions, going back to last year, she would sign some sort of corporate tax
credit if lawmakers would craft it more to her liking. He said they did -- and she didn't.
(She continues to be a moving target and to put excuses or reasons in a veto message that, even when we address them directly, brings another veto or another set of
reasons or excuses. She proved to me last year that her spoken word cannot be trusted. She proved to me last week that her written word cannot be trusted.)
House Speaker Jim Weiers was more blunt, saying Napolitano has to remember that she was elected governor, not dictator. Napolitano did not react kindly.
(I'm sorry. That kind of language is inappropriate and it's not accurate.)
Both sides appear dug in on key points of their own plans -- the governor to provide more than $130 million in new dollars to public schools and the GOP lawmakers
wanting a system where schools agree to teach according to certain preapproved methods, identify other available cash and seek the balance from the Department of Education.
In the meantime, the failure to adopt a plan by the Wednesday deadline set by the judge means the state is now accumulating fines of half a million dollars a day. Only thing is, no one is sure when the state needs to start cutting checks, who can authorize that -- and where the money will go. On Wednesday, Attorney General Terry Goddard petitioned Collins to have those daily fines sent to the state Department of Education, to be divided up among school districts. So in Flagstaff Unified School District, where nearly one in eight students is classified as an English learner, Goddard's proposal would mean an additional 49-hundred dollars a day -- at least until the state finally complies with the court order. The judge has scheduled
a hearing for later today to decide what to do.
In Phoenix, for Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.