The state Supreme Court, in an order released today, faulted lawmakers for failing to make adequate progress on meeting the Court’s school funding mandate. (Justice Johnson is filing a dissent from the majority opinion.) The accompanying press release acknowledge legislative progress.
The majority Order, signed by eight of the nine justices, acknowledges that “meaningful steps were taken in the 2013 legislative session to address the constitutional imperative of amply providing for basic education.”The court expressed concern, however, that the State is “not on target to implement ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776 by the 2017-18 school year.” The Order observes that the $982 million budget for education in 2013-15 represents only a 6.7% 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 legislature is embarking on a short session in 2014, where it has an opportunity to take a significant step forward. We are aware that OSPI has submitted a supplemental budget request of approximately $544 million, with $461 million addressing basic education funding. The need for immediate action could not be more apparent. Conversely, failing to act would send a strong message about the State’s good faith commitment toward fulfilling its constitutional promise.
…the State shall submit, no later than April 30, 2014, a complete plan for fully implementing its program of basic education for each school year between now and the 2017-18 school year…the pace of progress must quicken.
The court called it “deeply troubling” that the Legislature’s report evaluating its own progress didn’t address state funding for teacher and administrator salaries.