Washington state fined $100,000 per day for education funding failure

Aug 15, 2015 by

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state pay $100,000 a day in sanctions, starting immediately, for its lack of progress toward fully paying the cost of basic education.

The court encouraged Gov. Jay Inslee to call a special legislative session to address the issue, saying that if the Legislature complies with the court’s previous rulings for the state to deliver a plan to fully fund education that the penalties accrued during a special session would be refunded.

The order stems from McCleary et al. v. State of Washington, filed by two families against the state in 2007.

While the court acknowledged that progress was made by lawmakers during this year’s triple overtime legislative session, the state failed to provide a plan for full compliance by the 2018 deadline.

“Despite repeated opportunities to comply with the court’s order to provide an implementation plan, the State has not shown how it will achieve full funding of all elements of basic education by 2018,” the order, signed by all nine of the court’s justices, reads. “The state urges the court to hold off on imposing sanctions, to wait and see if the State achieves full compliance by the 2018 deadline. But time is simply too short for the court to be assured that, without the impetus of sanctions, the State will timely meet its constitutional obligations.”

Inslee said he would discuss and analyze the order with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and legislative leaders.

“Today’s order from the Supreme Court acknowledges that significant progress has been made toward meeting the state’s obligation to adequately fund basic education. But everyone understood that even with those historic investments in education, our work would not be done,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a statement. “The court today made it clear that bolder and more aggressive action is needed to support Washington’s students and their teachers. The detailed plan the court demands in order to fulfill our constitutional obligation will be more complex and expensive than the significant steps we’ve already taken.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn was not surprised the justices imposed sanctions.

“I would have been shocked if they would have removed the contempt order,” said Dorn.

He said he hoped the fine would force lawmakers back to Olympia to discuss raising the new taxes he said are needed to meet the McCleary ruling.

“It might be capital gains. It might be a sales tax on internet sales,” said Dorn. “Lowering property tax and having a discussion of an income tax, it could be a whole array of things.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn weighs in on the new McCleary order. The state Supreme Court on ordered the state pay $100,000 a day in sanctions for its lack of progress toward fully paying the cost of basic education.

State legislators voiced their displeasure with the ruling.

“The Washington Supreme Court has gone rogue. It is time for articles of impeachment,” Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, tweeted.

“Court’s order is based solely on its own vision for funding progress by deadline. Court wants a Hare. #waleg is a Tortoise. Who wins again?,” tweeted Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn.

“This is not a surprise,” Tom Ahearne attorney for the McCleary family said. “It’s about time. We’ll see what the governor and legislature does.”

“It’s clear the court agrees that our kids can’t wait for the legislature to act on its own,” said the Washington Education Association, representing teachers.

The fines will be held in an account to help pay for basic education until the contempt order is lifted.

Source: Washington state fined $100,000 per day for education funding failure

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