Judge rules against blocking Arizona 's highway dollars

| 12/30/2005

A federal judge this month decided against blocking the flow of federal highway funds to Arizona because of its failure to fully fund English Language Learner programs.

Public interest attorney Tim Hogan asked the court in August to help force the Arizona Legislature to pump more money into helping more than 160,000 students in the state referred to as English-language learners. Most of the English-language learners speak Spanish, and the state now spends more than $80 million annually to help them learn English.

Judge Raner C. Collins said the remedy has no relation to the students affected by the underfunding.

Hogan, executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, told the court that lawmakers have failed to meet deadlines set by itself and the federal court, The Associated Press reported. It was his intent that forceful sanctions would spur lawmakers into action and cutting off highway dollars would do that because of the state’s interest in building new roadways.

The ruling in the case ordered the state to meet the court’s requirements and fully fund the English-language Learner programs in the first 15 days of the legislative session that begins Jan. 9.