State Supreme Court heard the arguments on compliance with its McCleary school-funding mandate. Now what?

Yesterday’s hour-long oral arguments before the state Supreme Court broke little new ground. The McCleary plaintiffs contend the state has failed to meet its obligation; the state says it has, or will soon. You can watch the replay on TVW.

The Seattle Times reports

In the latest Supreme Court hearing on school funding Tuesday, the justices seemed to be weighing whether they could prod lawmakers to add more money to the education plan passed by the Legislature this year.

The state operating budget and four-year school-funding plan approved in June are supposed to fully fund the state’s public schools, as required under the court’s 2012 McCleary decision.

But many of the justices asked questions that challenged that notion — and those who watched the hearing said the justices appeared frustrated with both the state and the plaintiffs.

The funding plan is complex and the justices seemed to be searching for simple answers that were hard to come by. As the Times writes,

On Tuesday, an attorney for the state argued that the new funding plan finally will provide enough money to pay the entire cost of what the state constitution requires: a basic education for all Washington’s schoolchildren.

The lawyer for the plaintiffs insisted the Legislature still has a long way to go before it reaches that goal — possibly billions more in funding.

The justices sounded skeptical of both claims. They also inquired about a capital-construction budget with nearly $1 billion in school-construction funds that stalled this year in the Legislature

With the funding plan before them, the justices now have to decipher a budget document many education experts still can’t comprehend.

State schools chief Chris Reykdal said he sensed frustration by the justices over how the two sides define the education-funding problem.

“That is what is so difficult: One side (the state) is arguing that their job was to fund the formulas,” said Reykdal, while the plaintiffs argue “that is never good enough … but that’s harder to define.”

The Times story lays out the arguments and the court’s options. 

The Columbian editorial board thinks it’s time to call it game over.

When a decision on today’s arguments is rendered, lawmakers might or might not be told to get back to work on school funding. Ideally, this year’s solution will be deemed acceptable. If it is not, the Legislature must work for the benefit of Washington students rather than questioning the dictate of the court.

The Seattle Times editorial board writes that the state has more to do.

More coverage in The News Tribune and at KOMO news, The Washington Research Council provides some good background reading.