State legislature back at work?

August 20, 2015

Cassie Sauer

Last week, the Washington State Supreme Court announced that the Washington State Legislature is out of compliance with its McCleary decision on adequate funding for K-12 education. As a signal of its frustration, the Supreme Court imposed $100,000 a day in fines, which would go into a dedicated education account.

While that amount sounds substantial, in the context of a $38 billion overall state budget, it is relatively small. And as a side note: Whether and how the government pays a fine to itself, without the legislature acting to appropriate the funds, is an interesting legal ques


The big issue for legislators is where to find the billions of tax dollars the court appears to be demanding. Issues including class size, teacher salaries, local levies, and collective bargaining are all in the mix. Whether the state should increase taxes, and on whom, is an overriding issue.

Without calling the entire legislature back into session, Governor Inslee has asked legislative leaders to work with him to devise a plan that would be acceptable to both parties. He proposes to then convene a special legislative session for the vote. Considering the legislature just concluded its longest session in history without fully addressing the court mandate, that is a tall order.

Cassie Signature
Cassie Sauer
WSHA Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Government Affairs


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