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January 9, 2014 at 2:09 PM

State Supreme Court says education funding must grow faster

In a much-anticipated response to what happened with education funding in the last legislative session, the Washington Supreme Court today issued an order that, while acknowledging progress, said the “pace of progress must quicken.”

In a news release, the court said that the $982 million budget for education for 2013-15 “represents only a 6.7 percent increase over the current constitutionally inadequate level of funding and falls well short of the needs estimated by the legislature’s Joint Task Force on Education Funding.”

The court ruled in 2012 that the state 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.

In the meantime, the court is monitoring the legislature’s actions.

In this latest order, the court directed the state to “provide a complete phase-in plan for meeting its goals by April 30, 2014, and indicates the court might seek more frequent reports,” the news release said.

Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, quoted in the release, said:

“The state clearly made strides in 2013, which should not be overlooked. But the court is very concerned that, measured by the current rate of progress, the state is not going to be in compliance with the constitution by the 2017-18 school year.

“While we appreciate the scope of the task at hand and have deferred to the legislature’s chosen plan for fully funding basic education, it remains our constitutional obligation to uphold article IX, section 1,” she said.  “I think every person in Washington understands that providing for education is the state’s paramount duty under the state constitution.”

The release said that eight of the nine Supreme Court justices signed the order. Justice James Johnson will be writing a dissent, it said, but it has not yet been filed.

0 Comments | Topics: school funding, state supreme court

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