Now that the Washington Supreme Court has ruled state lawmakers have not entirely met their obligation to fully fund education, legislators have to find money sooner rather than later.
Or do they?
“Here’s the bizarre thing about the order,” said State Representative Matt Manweller. “If we just ignore them for a year, we come into compliance by ignoring them … (the Supreme Court) said you’ve given us enough money, and this will be enough money in 2019, but we want more money now. Well, if we just wait them out it will be 2019 and we will have enough money and their court order will be moot. So I think we will just wait them out.”
The most recent court order from the Supreme Court is the latest in an ongoing legal drama surrounding the state’s education system — commonly referred to as the McCleary decision. It began in 2010 when the court concluded lawmakers were not fully funding K-12 education, which is mandated in the state constitution. Since then, lawmakers have been put on a schedule to get funding up to par. But the court ruled lawmakers have not met that schedule.
On Wednesday, justices ruled yet again that was the case. This time, the budget provides enough funding, but the state is late on providing that money.
Manweller vs. Liberal Supreme Court
Manweller is a Republican representing the state’s 13th Legislative District. He says the state has doubled education spending in six years by adding $5 billion to $8 billion (depending on which numbers you go by). Education funding now takes up approximately 51 percent of the state budget. But he’s not surprised that the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that it did. He sees the justices as an arm of Liberal politics and therefore will only make decisions benefiting unions and Democrats.
“We were joking the other day in committee,” Manweller said. “Some poor person was testifying about some case pending before the Supreme Court and the group of legislators were laughing because ‘we don’t even need to hear your case, we don’t need to read your pleading, we don’t need to go to the oral arguments. We already know the outcome of the case before it is argued.’”
“That’s what happens when you have an interest group driven court,” he said. “The people on the court are there to represent stakeholders, not because they are great legal minds,” he said. “Their political abilities have gotten them there, not their understanding of constitutional law.”
Manweller explained that the state can only provide funding according to its budget cycle and that they can only tax economic activity once it has occurred. So the money doesn’t yet exist to provide the funding the Supreme Court wants now.
“Because we work on a four-year budget cycle and the court works on a headline cycle,” Manweller said.