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Published on Friday, September 19, 2014

Further Complicating Budget Deliberations, State Found in Contempt in McCleary v State Education Funding Case

On September 11, 2014, the Washington State Supreme Court found the state in contempt for failure to comply with the January 2014 Court Order requiring “a complete plan for fully implementing its program of basic education for each school year between now and the 2017-18 school year.” However, the Court held off on imposing sanctions until it reviews the progress made in the 2015 Legislative Session. This gives the state time for what it argued was the Legislature’s best chance to take meaningful action to address the funding issue.

This Court ruling places further pressure on the Legislature to reach agreement on funding that complies with the 2012 decision in McCleary v. State, which found that the state was not meeting “the paramount constitutional duty” in Article IX section 1 to provide adequate funding for basic K-12 education based on the Legislature’s own definition in HB 2776, passed in 2009.

Estimates for fully funding basic education differ substantially, but the Office of Financial Management (OFM) estimated that the amount needed to continue funding McCleary will be an additional $1.2 to $2 billion in the 2015-2017 biennium. OFM’s estimates include three components:

  • The estimated cost to continue phasing in HB 2776 (McCleary);
  • The projected cost of Initiative 732 (teacher COLAs); and
  • The projected cost of enrollment and other mandatory increases.

These estimates do not include the potential cost of I-1351 which is the class size reduction initiative on November’s ballot. Combined with the estimate of another significant state general budget gap for the 2015-17 biennium, local distributions of state revenues will continue to be at risk.

State Budget Director David Schumacher briefed AWC’s Legislative Committee about revenue and budget projections during their September 16 meeting. We found his presentation and PowerPoint to be informative and easy to understand.

September 11 Contempt Order

Categories: State budget