Capitol Media Services
By Howard Fischer
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/113911
PHOENIX — A proposed compromise Tuesday by Gov. Janet Napolitano on the issue of funding English-language instruction was rebuffed by Republican legislative leaders as "insincere window dressing."
In a four-page proposal to lawmakers, Napolitano said she would be willing to sign legislation that would let corporations divert some of their income-tax obligations — no more than $5 million a year for all companies combined, for no more than five years — to organizations that provide scholarships so students classified as "English language learners" could attend private and parochial schools. She twice vetoed more expensive plans last week.
But Senate President Ken Bennett called that meaningless because of the strings attached, including subjecting these schools to some of the same restrictions as public schools.
For example, schools would have to accept all students on a first-come, first-served basis, provide transportation and meals and use only certified teachers in classrooms with students learning English. He said that amounted to "government squashing private schools with a bunch of regulations."
The stalemate sends Arizona into its eighth day of being out of compliance with a federal court deadline to come up with an acceptable funding plan. Fines have been accumulating at the rate of $500,000 a day.
What will be done with those dollars still remains up in the air. U.S. District Judge Raner Collins agreed Tuesday to give the governor, the Legislature and state School Superintendent Tom Horne 24 more hours — until 5 p.m. today — to offer suggestions.