By Jerry Cornfield
Herald Writer
Published:
OLYMPIA — With all the legal arguments filed, it’s only a matter of time before the state Supreme Court weighs in on the merit of lawmakers’ efforts to adequately fund Washington’s public school system.
And it may not be a long wait.
Last August, just two weeks after attorneys for the state and plaintiffs in the McCleary case filed briefs on the state’s progress, justices slapped lawmakers with a $100,000-a-day fine for their failure to deliver what the court had demanded for two years — a plan for getting the job done.
This year, lawmakers passed a law they say provides the court with its requested blueprint. Their lawyers are now asking justices to end the fine and erase their contempt order against the state.
Those who sued contend the plan isn’t really a plan and want tougher sanctions imposed, even suggesting justices consider steps to prevent schools from opening this fall or next year.
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, expects to hear something soon
“They are very familiar with this case,” she said “I would imagine it wouldn’t take any longer than it took them last time.”
Ortiz-Self, who is vice-chairwoman of the House Education Committee, said she’d welcome the court maintaining a firm stance.
“I’m totally okay with them continuing to apply pressure,” she said. “We need to get this done. The more pressure we get from the Supreme Court, the more people will stay at the table.”
But there are Republican and Democratic lawmakers who think the court has exceeded its authority. They are unfazed by the contempt order and mounting fine. Justices wanted money to pay the fine set aside in a separate account but lawmakers didn’t take that step.
“I think the court has so overstepped their bounds,” said Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg. “It is not their place to do some of the things they are doing.”
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.
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