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In first formal report on McCleary school funding case, Legislature tells Washington Supreme Court: We’re working on it

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Sep. 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm with No Comments »
September 17, 2012 5:21 pm

This is the first response under the Washington Supreme Court’s January ruling in McCleary v. State. In that ruling, the court found that the state has failed to meet its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education. The court also retained jurisdiction until 2018 and over the summer decided to require the Legislature to report annually as to its progress toward meeting the funding obligations.

The first report, the work of a special legislative task force (The Joint Select Committee on Article IX Litigation), met last month to review staff work and submitted this report today. In it, the committee reiterates the background of the case, the legislative budget process and reviews actions taken over the last several years to both reform education and change how it is funded.

All of this was included in the lower court ruling against the state and in the briefing and oral arguments before the state Supreme Court last summer. The essence of the report is contained in the conclusions which essentially say, we’re working on it so give us time.

“Although progress toward implementation of the ESHB 2261 reforms in the 2011-13 biennium was sslow, it was not non-existent, and the incremental funding of these reforms represented a good-faith legislative effort to progress toward these goals in the second consecutive biennium of substantial budget cuts,” the report concluded. It asks for some credit for the fact that in the budget cutting that immediately followed release of the McCleary ruling, the Legislature preserved basic education from further cuts.

The report also tells the court of the creation of another special committee on school funding, this one called the Joint Task Force on Education Funding, and assigned it the job of finding the permanent and reliable funding source demanded by the McCleary decision.

“Then, in the law-making process that is likewise uniquely assigned to the legislative branch, the Legislature will enact legislation to satisfy Article IX by demonstrating real and measurable progress toward these reforms.”

Here is a link to a pdf of the filing on the Supreme Court website. (This is a 19MB file so click with caution.)

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