Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Monday, June 16, 2014 at 4:33 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Editorial: Supreme Court menaces lawmakers on McCleary, education funding

The state Supreme Court threatens to spark a war with the Legislature when it threatens a contempt citation over school funding.


Seattle Times Editorial

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
Using addition by subtraction, and counting cuts as new spending, the Times again incorrectly asserts that a new $1... MORE
Mr. Williams happens to be right regarding how the legislature proves their funding point. They cut then when they add... MORE
@Tero Karhu Nothing that the court is doing is unconstitutional thus far. If you read the powers of the supreme... MORE

advertising

SOUNDS like the state Supreme Court is prepared to go to the brink over school funding. In a menacing order last week, the justices summoned lawmakers to the Temple of Justice on Sept. 3 to explain why they haven’t written a plan to fully pay for basic education.

Among other things, lawmakers are supposed to explain why the court shouldn’t dictate the bills it expects the Legislature to pass; why it shouldn’t order the governor to begin selling state assets to pay for schools; and why it shouldn’t shut down the state school system until lawmakers pass a school-funding plan to its liking.

The court’s threats are serious, but the latest order in the McCleary v. State of Washington school-funding case ought to bother anyone familiar with the state Constitution and the separation of powers. If the court follows through, either it would reign supreme or the Legislature would learn how to defeat it.

The Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling has done much good. The 2012 decision correctly held that the state has failed to uphold its obligation to fully fund basic education.

So far, lawmakers have done everything the original McCleary ruling asked them to do, and they have launched a vigorous debate about education reform. Legislative leaders plan to beef up K-12 spending by $3 billion, to $7 billion, by the 2017-2018 school year. Lawmakers have pumped $1 billion into education so far, and they haven’t missed a deadline, under the original order.

Yet, a January order from the courtordered lawmakers to come up with a plan by April, a full year before they could reasonably be expected to debate their next biennial budget. Lawmakers didn’t do it, and instead they handed in a reasonable explanation — the political system, which budgets every two years, just doesn’t work that way.

Frustrated justices are unmoved. If their latest order is taken at face value, the court could become a destructive force, not a constructive one.

Perhaps the talk of a contempt citation and other sanctions is the only way the court can communicate — the expression of a government branch that knows no other way to begin a dialogue.

The court is right to keep up the pressure, but wrong to expect the Legislature to fix everything immediately. The court should stay its hand, rather than launching a war in which all parties would lose.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

The Seattle Times Historical Archives

Browse our newspaper page archives from 1900-1984

Autos news and research

The 5 top debuts at the L.A. Auto Show

The 5 top debuts at the L.A. Auto Show


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►