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

catalytic converter...
MyNorthwest Staff

Competing proposals for catalytic converter theft crackdown up for Thursday vote

Competing proposals from Democrats and Republicans to crack down on catalytic converter thefts are set for Thursday, Jan. 27. committee votes.
1 day ago
Redistricting, long term care tax delay...
MyNorthwest Staff

Long-term care tax delay inches closer to passage after approval from state Senate

The Washington State Senate voted to delay implementation of the new long-term care payroll tax on Wednesday. 
1 day ago
Rideshare companies...
Nick Bowman

Rideshare companies pour millions into PAC ahead of push for Washington ballot initiative

Rideshare companies have poured over $2 million into a new PAC, in what appears to be the precursor for a Washington ballot initiative. 
1 day ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

Earthquake early warning app now available in Washington

Washington residents can now download MyShake, an earthquake early warning app, and get extra seconds of warning.
1 day ago
KIRO 7 News Staff

Suspect arrested in Pierce County hit-and-run that killed one 12-year-old girl, injured another

A Pierce County SWAT team has arrested a 32-year-old man believed to be responsible for a hit-and-run collision that killed one 12-year-old girl.
1 day ago
Bills, pickleball...
Nick Bowman

Pickleball, dinosaurs, and a state nickname: Lawmakers weigh trio of lighthearted bills

Among the bills under consideration during the 2022 legislative session are a handful of more lighthearted proposals from lawmakers.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
What to expect when you’re expecting a McCleary decision