State Supreme Court hearing on McCleary school funding lawsuit; Questions, answers, and no clear resolution

The long awaited – if not eagerly anticipated – state Supreme Court hearing took place this morning. (Watch on TVW.)

The Seattle Times reports,

Attorneys appeared before the state Supreme Court on Wednesday in the landmark McCleary school-funding case, arguing over whether contempt sanctions against the state should be lifted — or whether harsher penalties are needed to spur action.

State attorney Alan Copsey compared the Legislature’s work on fully funding basic education to a marathon, saying it had made adequate progress. The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Thomas Ahearne, compared what’s happening to a merry-go-round ride that’s going nowhere.

We watched and that sums it up pretty well. The hearing didn’t break new ground, though the questions-and-answers added some flesh to the bones of the briefs

No decision is expected Wednesday, but the hearing provided a glimpse into what direction the court may be leaning. Observers looked for clues on whether justices would lift the contempt order and fines, or offer more punishment, like the plaintiffs and school-funding advocates have pushed for.

The justices seemed skeptical of both sides’ arguments on what to do regarding sanctions, asking both if the $100,000-per-day fine imposed on the state last year had made any difference.

 On Northwest News Network, Austin Jenkins reports on yesterday’s meeting of the Education Funding Task Force, a group with an important role to play in resolving the funding problem.

This is a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators that must make recommendations on issues like teacher pay and achieving class-size reduction. This all stems from a Supreme Court mandate that the state fully fund basic education by next school year.

As we wrote yesterday, we expect a swift decision from the court. But we have no idea what that decision will be.