Governor says special session may be necessary on school
The Associated Press
Aug. 3, 2005
By Paul Davenport
In the wake of lawsuit plaintiffs going to court to turn up the heat on state
lawmakers, Gov. Janet Napolitano says a special session of the Legislature may
be needed to resolve a long-standing school funding issue that could jeopardize
federal funding for highway construction in Arizona.
Napolitano said Wednesday she plans to raise the possibility of a special
session when she meets next week with top legislative leaders.
A federal judge has ruled that the state's programs for students learning the
English language are inadequate, and attorneys for class-action plaintiffs on
Tuesday asked that the state's federal highway dollars be withheld until the
state complies with the court rulings.
The Republican-led Legislature in April passed a bill to increase funding and
retool the state's programs but Napolitano said the bill was inadequate and
vetoed it. The Democratic governor later offered a plan that would be more
When asked about the issue Wednesday during a news conference, Napolitano said
lawmakers need to deal with it sooner rather than later. "We need to solve this
problem as opposed to litigating it," she said.
Senate President Ken Bennett has the issue might wait until next year because
state funding for the school year just getting started is already set.
"It could just be something that is done at the beginning of a regular session
or something like that," Bennett said last week in an interview with The
Associated Press. "I don't know what if you did it in a special session right
now you could put into effect before the next school year anyway."
The lawsuit plaintiffs asked the judge in the case to expedite his consideration
of their request for sanctions. Otherwise, it could be months before there's a
ruling and easily January before the Legislature is forced to act, the
plaintiffs' lawyers said.
Given that the students are not adequately learning English and are failing the
AIMS graduation test in large numbers, "they need relief now, not next January,"
the motion stated.