Washington State Supreme Court Keeps the Pressure On State Legislature to Properly Fund Public Education
The McCleary school funding lawsuit has been active for years, and it still rages on. What follows is language from a November 15, 2017, Order from the Washington State Supreme Court that is keeping the pressure on Washington State's Legislature to properly fund public education. These two paragraphs will give you a feel for the legal issue and facts. If you're interested in reading the full Order, you can download it here.
"In McCleary v. State, 173 Wn.2d 477, 539, 269 P.3d 227 (2012), this court unanimously held that the State was not meeting its "paramount duty... to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders." Wash. CONST, art. IX, § 1. Recognizing that the legislature had enacted a promising set of reforms and was making progress toward funding those reforms, the court deferred to the legislature's chosen means of discharging its constitutional duty. McCleary, 173 Wn.2d at 484, 543-44. However, the court retained jurisdiction to help ensure steady and measurable progress in the State's plan to fully implement reforms by September 1, 2018, a deadline the State itself had set."
"Nearly six years have passed, and today, the court must determine whether the State has made the grade. As explained below, over the past several years the State has made significant progress in fully funding the program of basic education, including by amply funding most of its components. Further, the 2017 legislature enacted a funding system that, when fully implemented, will achieve constitutional compliance according to the benchmarks that have consistently guided judicial oversight. However, by its own admission, the State will not meet the established deadline of September 1, 2018, as to all components. Instead, the funding system adopted in Engrossed House Bill 2242, 65th Leg., 3d Spec. Sess. (Wash. 2017) (EHB 2242) delays by over a year implementation of a constitutionally compliant salary model, a critical part of meaningful reform. While the court can appreciate the political and budgetary challenges that may explain the State's decision to postpone full funding of the salary model, it cannot accept part compliance as full compliance. The court's constitutional responsibility is to the schoolchildren of this state who have an enforceable right under article IX, section 1 to an amply funded education. We cannot erode that constitutional right by saying that the State is now "close enough" to constitutional compliance. The goals have long been clear, the deadline has long been clear, and the meaning of "amply fund" has long been clear. Until the State enacts measures that fully implement its program of basic education by the September 1, 2018 deadline, it remains out of compliance. The court will retain jurisdiction, continue to impose daily sanctions, and reserve all enforcement options to compel compliance with its decision and orders."