McCleary: Change starts now

McCleary. The 2012 state Supreme Court ruling breathed life into Article IX of the state Constitution. By affirming a declaratory ruling of the King County Superior Court, the Supremes agreed that Washington was not meeting its “paramount duty…to make ample provision for the education of all the children residing within its borders.”

But the devil is in the phase-in details and periodic benchmarks to reach the 2018 deadline for full funding, that the Legislature “demonstrate that its budget meets its plan.”

Oh, that. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court cried “contempt” and let loose the dogs of partisanship, as McCleary suddenly became shorthand for judicial overreach. But holding up a mirror isn’t overreach simply because you don’t cotton to the reflection. As the court underlined in its Thursday ruling holding the state in contempt, the order is predicated on inconvenient reality, not “disrespect.”

“The state assured the court that a contempt order is not necessary to get the Legislature’s attention, that school funding is the number one issue on the Legislature’s agenda, and that the 2015 session will provide the best opportunity to take meaningful action on the matter,” the court wrote in its unanimous decision. “The court has no doubt that it already has the Legislature’s ‘attention.’ But that is not the purpose of a contempt order. Rather, contempt is the means by which a court enforces its lawful orders when they are not followed.”

We won’t see shackled legislators taking the perp walk. The court gave lawmakers a pass until the end of the 2015 session. The reprieve provides legislators adequate time to meet their obligation.

It also forces an adult conversation on sustainable budgeting, public values and priorities for the Northwest now and decades from now. (A small-minded solution would shred the social safety net or target higher ed, which is finally on the rebound.)

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, chairman of the House Finance Committee, calls it the “opportunity of the crisis,” and he’s right.

“That ruling is a reflection of more than our Legislature’s political will. It is a reflection of whether we have the courage as a representative institution of government to tackle the most difficult, structural policy issues facing our state together and put conscience and constituents above politics.” Carlyle writes. “We need a ‘kids and community’ budget not one that that pits schools against the wide range of community services and supports needed to enhance quality of life for our seven million residents.”

Put everything on the table and take the long view. Leaders lead.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, April 14

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

FILE - In this undated photo, provided by NY Governor's Press Office on Saturday March 27, 2021, is the new "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Vaccine passports being developed to verify COVID-19 immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine have become the latest flash point in America’s perpetual political wars, with Republicans portraying them as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices. (NY Governor's Press Office via AP, File)
Editorial: Vaccine passports can nudge more toward immunity

Used to persuade rather than exclude, the passports could increase access to businesses and venues.

Comment: Build-to-rent could be affordable housing solution

Building neighborhoods of single-family and higher-density homes could get past NIMBY objections.

Comment: Media again key to ending voting rights filibuster

TV newsman Roger Mudd’s daily reports in 1964 kept the Civil Rights Act filibuster in public view.

Edmonds school levy will fund important building upgrades

Last year was extraordinarily challenging, so I’m glad to see students and… Continue reading

Rants and raves over the crisis at the southern border

Rant to border officials who tried to prevent pictures of the current… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, April 13

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Eric Brossard displays his commemorative Drug Court graduation coin that reads, "I came with hope, worked and learned. I have a new life. A life that I've earned." (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Court ruling requires focus on addiction treatment

A court decision allows for a more effective and affordable solution to substance use disorder.

An architectual illustration shows the proposed Learning Resource Center at Everett Community College. The centerAn architectual illustration shows the proposed Learning Resource Center at Everett Community College. The center would replace the college's Libary Media Center, built in 1988. The Senate capital budget proposal allocates $48 million for its construction, while the House budget includes no funding for it. (Courtesy of Everett Community College) would replace the college's
Editorial: Capital budget a bipartisan boost for communities

House and Senate proposals are substantial and needed, but final talks should secure an EvCC project.

Most Read