Court: State lawmakers must expedite school funds

OLYMPIA — The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday ordered lawmakers to submit a complete plan by the end of April to detail how the state will fully pay for basic education.

The 8-1 ruling said that while the state made progress in last year’s budget to increase funding for K-12 education, it was “not on target” to hit the constitutionally required funding level by the 2017-18 school year.

“We have no wish to be forced into entering specific funding directives to the State, or, as some state high courts have done, holding the legislature in contempt of court,” read the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. “But, it is incumbent upon the State to demonstrate, through immediate, concrete action, that it is making real and measureable progress, not simply promises.”

Joining Madsen were Justices Charles Johnson, Debra Stephens, Susan Owens, Charles Wiggins, Mary Fairhurst, Steven Gonzalez and Sheryl Gordon McCloud. Justice Jim Johnson wrote a separate dissent, which was to be released later in the day.

In 2012, the high court ruled that the state is not meeting its constitutional obligation concerning education funding. That ruling was the result of a lawsuit brought by a coalition of school districts, parents and education groups, known as the McCleary case for the family named in the suit. The court has required yearly progress reports from the Legislature on its efforts. Those reports are then critiqued by the group that brought the lawsuit, and by the Supreme Court.

This year, the Legislature allocated about $1 billion more for basic education for the current two-year budget cycle. Lawmakers estimate they need to find a total of between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion more over the coming years to fully pay for basic education.

The majority noted that the budget allocation through 2015 “is only a modest 6.7 percent above current funding levels that violate the constitution, and there are not even two full budget cycles left to make up the sizable gap before the school year ending in 2018.”

The court wrote it is “clear that the pace of progress must quicken.”

More in Local News

Bicycle tour raises money for dialysis patients

Volunteers also shared health information and put together care packages for homeless women.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Boeing reaches out to schools

Company employees helped Everett students at recent reading and Manufacturing Day events.

5-vehicle collision sends school bus into ditch; no injuries

No students were hurt when a school bus crashed into… Continue reading

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

Theft lands former insurance salesman 50 days in jail

A former insurance salesman is expected to report to jail… Continue reading

Pair of intrepid musicians climb N. Cascades summits to play

Rose Freeman and Anastasia Allison pack their instruments up mountains for high-altitude recitals.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein (left) and Elizabeth Reed, of Snohomish, share something humorous during an interview at Reed’s Snohomish High School Class of 1942 reunion in September 2016. Muhlstein is marking 20 years as a columnist, with about 3,000 of them published in The Herald. Counting her early days as a reporter and editor, she has been with The Herald for 36 years. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
3,000 stories in 20 years: Here are some of my favorites

As a Daily Herald columnist, I’ve met remarkable people and learned much since 1997.

Most Read