Senate panel rejects 'No Child' opt-out
Arizona Republic
April 2, 2008


Mary Jo Pitzl

A state Senate panel failed to pass a bill Wednesday that would have Arizona opt out of the federal No Child Left Behind program, but the measure will likely be revived on a vote next week.

On a tie vote, the Senate's Education Committee rejected the opt-out bill. If a bill does not get a majority of votes, it fails.

But the committee chair, Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, said she will have the panel reconsider House Bill 2392 next Wednesday. Three of the panel's nine members were absent today and backers are confident they have enough votes to pass the measure.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, would make Arizona the first state in the nation to opt out of the federal program and its mandates. However, the bill has another opt-out clause, of sorts, because the state's withdrawal would be contingent on the Arizona Legislature backfilling whatever money the state would lose from not participating in the federal program.

Arizona receives about $600 million a year from the program. Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale, said she doubted the Legislature would ever replace that amount of money, making the bill meaningless.

And Sen. Tom O'Halleran, R-Sedona, called the bill a “political postcard” that would have no real effect in Arizona.

“Maybe we should be sending a postcard to our own Legislature saying it needs to get its act together on education,” O'Halleran said.

The measure died on a 3-3 vote, with three members absent.