GOP amends English-learner bill
Associated Press
Mar. 2, 2006

Paul Davenport

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano welcomed a change made in Republicans'
latest bill to resolve an education funding issue that has the state accumulating daily $1 million fines, but she won't tip her hand on what she'll do with the measure.

Citing her policy of not revealing her plans on legislation until it reaches her desk, Napolitano declined Wednesday to state her intentions regarding the pending bill to revamp programs for students learning the English language.

However, she expressed disappointment that Republican legislative leaders proceeded with their latest bill without reaching agreement with her and Democratic legislative leaders on a possible compromise.

She also said she was pleased that a provision in two bills she vetoed in January, a new income tax credit for businesses' donations for private school tuition grants for students learning English, was dropped from the latest bill.

The House on Monday approved the latest bill, but a Senate vote has been delayed because supporters have no votes to spare in that chamber and one senator has been ill.

Once the new bill reaches her, Napolitano's options are to sign it, veto it or let it become law without her signature. Napolitano has said the three previous bills, two in January and one last May, were inadequate.

"I'm looking at all the options," Napolitano said when asked whether there was any chance she'd allow the new bill to become law without her signature.
"Rest assured I will act very, very promptly."

The Republican bill would increase the state's per-student supplemental funding for English-language-learner programs to $432 from $355 but also provide additional funding based on costs to implement new state-approved instruction models. Napolitano initially sought to increase per-student funding to about $1,200 over three years but recently said she'd accept $667 plus additional costs to implement the new models.

The daily fines started at $500,000 on Jan. 25 when the state missed a federal judge's deadline and rose to $1 million a day on Friday, with a total of $21 million accumulated through Wednesday.