Attorney General files report with state Supreme Court: Full compliance with McCleary order

The Attorney General has filed the required brief to the state Supreme Court detailing actions taken in the recent legislative session to achieve full compliance with the court’s McCleary basic education order. After a thorough review of steps taken, the brief concludes with the state’s view of what the court’s next steps should be:

The Court should find that the legislation enacted in the 2018 legislative session corrects the final item of constitutional noncompliance identified in the Court’s November 2017 Order. The Court should hold that the State has achieved full compliance with article IX, section 1 of the Washington Constitution and with the Court’s 2012 McCleary decision, and has done so by September 1, 2018.

The Court should find that the State purged contempt as of March 27, 2018, and lift its contempt order. The Court should stop the accrual of the daily sanction as of March 27, 2018.

The Court should find that the State has fully paid the accumulated contempt sanction into a separate account dedicated to basic education, as the Court directed in its November 2017 Order, and allow the funds paid into the segregated account to be expended to support basic education in Washington.

Finally, the Court should relinquish its retained jurisdiction and terminate review.

As we’ve said before, the state has done its job. We agree with the AG.

In a post for the Washington Research Council, Emily Makings writes,

The Legislature’s report begins on page 25 of the AG’s submission. It notes that state funding for public schools increased from $13.4 billion in 2011–13 to $22.8 billion in 2017–19 and is planned to increase to $26.7 billion in 2019–21. All the figures in the report include funds from the dedicated McCleary penalty account. And, if I’m reading the table on page 34 correctly, they are an understatement. They assume that professional learning days are delayed (saving $27.1 million in 2017–19 and $75.8 million in 2019–21), but Gov. Inslee vetoed that delay.

One potential issue is that the $105.2 million that was transferred to the dedicated McCleary penalty account from the general fund was fully appropriated by the Legislature for salaries, the special education multiplier, and regionalization factors. A footnote in the court’s November order said, “Sanctions must remain separate and unexpended.” The AG’s memo argues, “The Court should . . . allow the sanction funds to be expended to support basic education in Washington, as contemplated in ESSB 6032.”

Given all that’s been accomplished, let’s hope the court feels magnanimous enough to grant the AG’s request and overlook its own footnote. It’s done.