Posted January 29, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in News

State Supreme Court to Lawmakers: More School Funding Now

New Order Turns Up the Heat on Lawmakers to Ensure Quality Education for all Children


The Washington Legislature is under new pressure this month to increase funding for education after the state Supreme Court issued an order for lawmakers to do more to provide basic minimums for school funding. Reaffirming Washingtonians’ constitutional right to quality education, the court renewed their call for elected representatives to meet the budget targets the court established in a 2012 ruling. In that unanimous ruling, the court found the state had violated the state constitution by failing to properly fund schools. The court gave lawmakers until 2018 to raise spending for K-12 schools by an additional $3.5 billion and $7 billion, but did not establish any penalties for failing to do so.

Since 2012, the state has bumped up school funding by $1 billion, but on Jan. 9, the court said that lawmakers are not on track to meet the requirements. They point out that spending for the 2013 school year was only 6.7 percent above the level found constitutionally inadequate. The order set a deadline of April 30 for legislators to submit a detailed plan of how they will fulfill the budget obligations.

The state Supreme Court reiterated that it is “the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders,” in the Washington State Constitution. 

The state Supreme Court reiterated in their order that it is “the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders,” according to the Washington State Constitution.
So far, it is unclear where the additional funding would come from, and what penalties the court will impose if the state fails to meet its obligations.

The court did acknowledge the legislature for making education a higher priority as well as taking action to expand spending for full-day kindergarten and high-poverty K-3 classrooms.

Governor Jay Inslee expressed agreement with the Supreme Court in this year’s State of the State address delivered Jan. 14.
“We need to stop downplaying the significance of this court action,” Inslee said. “Education is the one paramount duty inscribed in our constitution.”

Inslee called on the state to meet K-12 budget requirements without cutting public services for vulnerable children and families. He also voiced his support for higher education.

“Students who work hard and succeed in school should know there is a slot in our higher education system for them, and financial aid will be available to them if they need it,” he said.