What to expect when you’re expecting a McCleary decision

Oct 26, 2017, 5:56 AM

The Washington State Supreme Court has heard arguments over whether the Legislature has finally fully funded K-12 education. Now, Washington waits for yet another McCleary decision.

What happens if the court says the state is still under-funding education?

“I think it’s highly unlikely they will reach that conclusion because the Legislature did take another big step forward to funding basic education in the last session,” said former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna. “They’ve almost doubled state funding per-pupil to $12,000 a year now; by the year 2019-2020. And we’ll have the 5th highest per-pupil state spending in the country as a result. So I don’t think the court will go there.”

RELATED: Supreme Court weighs arguments over McCleary and recent budget

The 2012 McCleary decision put the state on the path to better fund K-12 education. The court concluded that lawmakers were not fully funding the schools, which is mandated by the state constitution. As attorney general, McKenna represented the state in the case.

Despite money added to the education budget over the past few years, the Supreme Court has previously found lawmakers in contempt for their slow progress on the issue. It fined the Legislature $100,000 a day until it started adequately funding the schools.

“As I understand it, in the budgeting process, the money equal to fines was put in a segregated account and then spent on education,” McKenna said. “It’s just taking out of one pocket and putting it into another. But I guess this means the Senate and House can cancel the planned bake sales and car washes that they otherwise would have had to organize.”

As the latest budget was crafted this year, many have watched to see if the Legislature has finally met the court’s demand.

“The first thing they will do is look at the state’s own laws,” McKenna said. “The reason we got into this position with the McCleary lawsuit and the resulting 9-0 Supreme Court decision … is that the Legislature passed a couple big bills that expanded the definition of basic education – for example adding preschool to the definition. And then it failed to provide enough funding. Instead, the Legislature kept pushing the responsibility off to local school districts. So this is a problem of the Legislature’s own making. But the good thing is that it’s a solution the Legislature can make as well.”

McKenna said there may be a bit more work for the Legislature to do in order to complete the job. But the job is mostly finished. Critics, however, claim that while the Legislature is providing funding in the budget, it is also taking money away from previously-passed levies (which were passed to make up for the state’s under-funding).

“I think that there will always be a tug-of-war and disagreements over the budget,” McKenna said. “… It’s getting harder and harder for the plaintiffs in the case to credibly claim that the budgets being passed are not meeting constitutional muster.”

“I think that there won’t be much basis for the Supreme Court to continue to hold them in contempt or threaten new action against the Legislature,” he said.

Local News

Mt. Rainier death...

Associated Press

Washington man climbing Mount Rainier dies near summit

A Washington state man who was trying to summit Mount Rainier this week collapsed and died near the top of the mountain.

2 days ago

biden crisis averted...

Zeke Miller and Chris Megerian

Biden celebrates a ‘crisis averted’ in Oval Office address on bipartisan debt ceiling deal

President Joe Biden celebrated a “crisis averted” in his first speech to the nation from the Oval Office Friday evening.

2 days ago

Ferry cancellations...

Micki Gamez

Ferry cancellations, delays causing frustration among island residents

Island resident Valerie McKnight says she's frustrated with the ferry system because of hefty delays and daily cancellations.

2 days ago

Montlake SR 520 closed...

Nate Connors

Montlake Boulevard SR 520 on-ramps, exits closed this weekend

SR 520 will not be accessible via Montlake Boulevard over the weekend, as both on and off-ramp access will be closed.

2 days ago

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

Deedee Sun, KIRO 7 News

Two Northshore elementary principals on leave after alleged cocaine use

High on cocaine with a loaded gun – that’s what Redmond police say they saw when they confronted a local elementary school principal at a QFC.

2 days ago

Nordstrom patagonia lawsuit...

Bill Kaczaraba

Patagonia accuses Nordstrom of selling fake merch, files lawsuit

Patagonia is accusing Nordstrom of selling fake merchandise and has filed a lawsuit against the Seattle-based department store chain.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

What to expect when you’re expecting a McCleary decision