The Capitol Record

Education funding report to state Supreme Court says 2015 session will be ‘critical’

The Washington Supreme Court earlier this year gave the Legislature an April 30 deadline to submit a plan explaining how the state will pay for education. Lawmakers met that deadline with a report submitted Tuesday — but it doesn’t include a plan.

“The Legislature did not enact additional timelines in 2014 to implement the program of basic education as directed by the Court in its January 2014 order,” according to the report, which was prepared and unanimously approved by the Article IX Litigation Committee.

During the 2014 legislative session, “there was was no political agreement reached either among the political caucuses or between the legislative chambers” on a plan to fully fund basic education by 2018.

Nor does the committee have the authority to come up with a plan, the report said. The Article IX committee was set up to communicate with the Supreme Court on matters related to to the McCleary lawsuit, and “does not have policy-making or budget-making authority.”

The 58-page report details bills that were passed this year, including Senate Bill 6552. The bill requires high school students to earn 24 credits for a diploma, starting with the class of 2019. The current minimum is 20 credits, although some school districts require more than the minimum.

It also notes the Legislature approved an increase of $58 million in the supplemental budget for K-12 books and supplies.

The committee asked the Supreme Court to give “deep consideration” to the action taken this year, and recognize that “2015 is the next and most critical year for the Legislature to reach the grand agreement needed to meet the state’s Article IX duty.”

Read the full report here.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn criticized the report as “far from complete.”

“It isn’t even a plan. It reads like a small history lesson,” said Dorn, who urged the Supreme Court “to do what it can to keep the Legislature’s feet to the fire.”

Democratic Sen. David Frockt and Republican Rep. Chad Magendanz, who both sit on the Article IX committee, discussed the report on this week’s edition of “The Impact.”

“We didn’t pass a plan, per se,” said Frockt. He said the committee instead tried to acknowledge what the Legislature accomplished, and explain how the budget process works in a supplemental year.

“In terms of what the court does with that, it’s hard to say,” Frockt said.

The Supreme Court is expected to give a response to the report this summer.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a brief to accompany the report, saying he “hopes that the Court’s response to the attached Report will further facilitate, and not complicate, this endeavor, thereby allowing each branch to fulfill its constitutional role.”

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