The state Supreme Court should, at minimum, sternly warn state legislators that they will face sanctions if they don’t ramp up public school funding more rapidly than they did this year, the plaintiffs in the successful school-funding lawsuit said today.
The plaintiffs — a group known as the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS) — made that request in a legal brief to the court, part of the court’s ongoing monitoring of the lawsuit, which is known as the McCleary case after the lead plaintiff.
In that case, the justices ruled that the Legislature is violating the state’s constitution by failing to provide ample funding for public education. The court gave lawmakers a 2018 deadline to pay for programs and services estimated to cost $3 billion to $4 billion per biennium.
Many critics, including the NEWS group, have argued that the state is not making enough progress toward that goal, adding at most $1 billion a year in the 2013-15 budget and, NEWS argues, less than that if budget cuts are counted.
In its brief, NEWS urged the court to do more than cheer for a better result next year.
“Is a constitutional right a real right, or just a nice sounding platitude,” the brief said. “Must elected officials obey the constitution, or are they above it?”