The political battle over how to pay for the instruction of English learners continued Tuesday as Republicans quickly rejected Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano’s latest proposal.
With the state paying $500,000 a day in courtordered fines, Napolitano sent the GOP-led Legislature a proposal that keeps parts of an earlier Republican-backed bill she vetoed twice last week as well as a tax break for corporations.
Under the governor’s plan, the state would take $45 million to create an English Language Learners Fund.
Her plan also calls for an independent contractor to complete an analysis of the state’s school system to determine which districts are successfully teaching English and which ones are failing.
Napolitano also proposed keeping parts of the Republican bill calling for the creation of a task force to review how the English money is spent.
Additionally, her plan would offer tuition tax breaks for corporations that give to the scholarship funds of private schools offering English programs.
The credits would be capped at $5 million statewide and the program would be reviewed in five years.
“I urge you to seriously consider these proposals so that the state can comply with the federal law governing English language learners and so we may put these issues behind us and begin to address the other matters pending this session,” Napolitano stated in a fourpage letter.
Republicans have said that creating an education task force and offering tax breaks for corporations would improve the state’s effectiveness at teaching the language.
But Republican leaders rejected her plan despite the governor’s compromises, saying it does nothing but throw more money at the problem without adding accountability.
Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, said the governor’s plan was nothing more than “insincere window dressing.”
Republicans would like the proposed task force to dole out money to school districts based not only on the number of students, but on how each district provides the programs.
The governor’s plan would give out money based on the number of students learning English in the district.
U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins in December set a Jan. 24 deadline to find a solution or begin paying daily fines of $500,000.