Tax break for corporate donations to private schools vetoed
Associated Press
May. 20, 2005

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano on Friday vetoed Republican bills to give businesses a tax break for donations for private school scholarships and to revamp state funding of instruction of students learning English.

Clearing the desk of 60 bills sent to her in the final days of the legislative session, Napolitano vetoed the two education bills while accepting most of an $8.2 billion budget for the next fiscal year.

Napolitano also signed tax-relief measures, including ones to reduce businesses' property taxes, to give tax incentives to film productions and to encourage Intel Corp. or other manufacturers to locate new plants in Arizona or re-equip existing ones

Napolitano vetoed two immigration-related bills. One would have let state and local law enforcement officers enforce immigration laws while the second was aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from receiving certain government services and benefits not covered by a ballot approved by voters last November.

In other action, she signed bills to temporarily relax the approaching requirement that students pass the AIMS test to graduate (SB1038) and to impose new sales restrictions on cold medicines that contain a chemical used as an ingredient in producing methamphetamine, an illegal stimulant (SB1473).

The vetoes of the two education-related bills were expected to draw strong criticism from legislative Republicans because of their support for the school choice measure and a federal court order that lawmakers act on the English learning issue.

Napolitano had accepted the corporate tuition tax credit as part of a compromise under which lawmakers on May 6 approved the budget with funding she sought for social programs, expansion of all-day kindergarten and creation of a new Phoenix branch campus of the University of Arizona medical school.

The agreement also had Republicans surrender on their push that Napolitano accept new private school tuition vouchers.

Napolitano has taken the position that the deal was broken by Republicans because the tax credit did not include an automatic repeal after five years and because Republicans failed to reach a bipartisan compromise with legislative Democrats on the English learning issue.

For their part, Republicans have said Napolitano didn't object before that tax credit bill was passed through her staff knew that it included an automatic review but not a repeal. They also said they didn't commit to reaching a deal with Democrats on the English learning issue.

Legislative Democrats sought a big increase in current funding for English learning instruction based on the current system of giving districts extra money on a per-student basis.

Republicans instead adopted a bill (HB2718) - the one vetoed by Napolitano - to provide a temporary boost in per-student funding that would be replaced by a new grant program to be based on each districts' actual costs and availability of other dollars that could be used for English learning.

Arizona already gives individuals an income tax credit for donations to groups that provide scholarships for private school students' tuition. The bill (SB1527) vetoed by Napolitano would have augmented that with a new tax credit for businesses' donations.

The Legislature approved the English learning bill on May 13, the last day of the 2005 regular session. It reached Napolitano's desk the same day as the rest of the budget package because Republicans leaders sent it as a package with the spending bills approved May 6.