Washington lawmakers plan to argue right up until a Sept. 17 deadline over what they should tell the Supreme Court about how they’ll fix the way the state pays for K-12 education.
In July, the court gave the Legislature two months to file its first report on what they were doing in answer to a January ruling that the state isn’t meeting its constitutional obligation to amply pay for basic education. In the past decade, education spending has gone from close to 50 percent to just above 40 percent of the state budget, despite the fact that some education spending is protected by the constitution.
State lawmakers have in recent years been dealing with large budget deficits, and earlier this year they cut $300 million in state funding. The spending plan didn’t include any cuts to education, but lawmakers will continue to scramble to find money to pay for government services when they meet again in January.
All summer, various legislative committees focused on education have been meeting, but the one committee assigned by lawmakers to report back to the Supreme Court has yet to convene.
The report due Sept. 17 is the first of at least six the Supreme Court requested in its July ruling. The other reports are due 60 days after the governor signs the state budget each year.
After the Legislature files its reports, the coalition of school districts, parents, teachers and community groups who brought the lawsuit will have 30 days to file their own critique of the Legislature’s progress reports.
In Chief Justice Barbara Madsen’s July order, she wrote that the Legislature’s reports must show “real and measurable” progress toward achieving full compliance with the Constitution.
The order also set a firm deadline of 2018 to fix the way the state pays for education in Washington. (AP)