State’s top court may punish lawmakers over school funds

Stephanie McCleary

VIDEO – Oral Arguments

Washington State Supreme Court

Oral arguments: McCleary, et al v. State (Whether the State has met its duty under article IX, section I of the Washington State Constitution to make ample provision for the education of all children within its borders)

In 2007, parents Stephanie and Matthew McCleary along with the state’s largest teachers union, 30 school districts and others sued the state of Washington for not upholding its constitutional responsibilities to “make ample provision for the education of all children.” The McClearys and the other plaintiffs argued that the state was falling short of providing enough to accomplish that — even for basics such as school-bus transportation and paper and books.

They won at the Superior Court level in 2010. And they won again in the Supreme Court in 2012, when the justices not only ordered lawmakers to meet the 2018 deadline, but to show steady progress toward that goal each year.

The court based its order on the Legislature’s own definition, last revised in 2009, of what is needed to provide a basic education for all students. The tally, depending on whether more money for teacher pay is included, falls between $3.5 billion to $7 billion per two-year budget period. That would mean an overall boost of 10 to 20 percent to the Legislature’s $33.6 billion budget for 2013-2015.

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