Gov. Janet Napolitano has yet another opportunity to finally fulfill her 2005 pledge to sign into law a limited plan that would help more students pursue private alternatives to a government education.
Napolitano has a new bill on her desk that would offer up to $5 million a year in corporate tax credits over the next five years for donating to tuition scholarship organizations. We previously disputed the governor’s various excuses for vetoing this proposal after striking a deal last year with Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, and House Speaker Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, on the state budget.
But we sympathized with Napolitano’s last veto in mid-January, because Republicans started to play games with this important issue by dropping it into another bill related to the English language learner court case. Republicans insisted they had suddenly discovered how tuition tax credits could be part of the ELL solution, only days before court-ordered fines began to be imposed for failing for five years to present an adequate plan to the judge.
Republican lawmakers eventually — and after $21 million in fines — dropped their efforts to artificially tie the two issues together. The Legislature adopted a separate ELL plan that provides funding at a level four times higher than that of 2000. Napolitano decided to end the stalemate by allowing the GOP plan to become law without her signature, and the judge is reviewing it.
Last week, Republican lawmakers also sent Napolitano a tuition tax credit bill that complies with her interpretation of the 2005 deal.
The governor should fulfill her side of the bargain, without any further conditions, or openly admit she regrets ever entertaining the notion of expanding on school choice in Arizona.