The Legislature has told the state Supreme Court that it has met its McCleary school funding obligations. In a lengthy report adopted last Friday, lawmakers detail actions taken this session and review progress since the court’s 2012 order. The report concludes,
In enacting EHB 2242, the 2017 Legislature achieved the promise of its earlier enacted reforms. In addition to completing the scheduled education funding enhancements of ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776, the budget and policy legislation enacted in 2017 will implement those reforms by ensuring that state salary allocations will align with the costs of the state’s program of basic education. Further, EHB 2242 provides additional enhancements for categorical instruction programs. Finally, 2242 revises state and local school revenues and improves transparency and accountability of education funding. It is the intent of the Legislature that these comprehensive revisions to K-12 policy and funding will improve outcomes for all children.
As the Association of Washington Business reports, the state has made substantial new investments in education in the past five years.
The 52-page report highlights billions of dollars in new money for K-12 education, policy changes, and other reforms to ensure that the state meeting its “paramount” constitutional duty to amply and equitably fund public education.
The Legislature has added $13 billion in new K-12 funding over a decade, has raised teacher pay, and revised the property tax system to ensure that the state is collecting and paying for basic education.
“The state will have a pretty strong case,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, one of eight legislators on the special panel that adopted the report. “The question is whether it’s enough.”
When the budget was adopted, the governor and lawmakers believed they were in full compliance, a conclusion the state’s report appears to support. Still, the Herald reports,
Thomas Ahearne, attorney for the parents and educators who filed the McCleary lawsuit, said it’s not.
The next steps could take several months. The Spokesman-Review writes,
The attorney general’s office will argue the state has met its obligation in a filing next week. Ahearne will submit a brief Aug. 30 arguing that the state still hasn’t done what the court ordered it to do, and is falling short. The court is expected to hear arguments sometime in the fall.
More later. And, for a little schadenfreude, news of Illinois’ school-funding showdown.