Washington Supreme Court Orders Legislature to Fully Comply With Its Prior Decision


In 2012, the Washington Supreme Court held that the state was in violation of the state constitution because it had not provided “ample” funding for the basic education to which all students are entitled. McCleary v. State. In order to ensure an effective remedy, the Court retained jurisdiction of the case, and ordered the legislature to provide annual reports that would “show real and measurable progress toward achieving compliance…”

Last month, the Court issued an order in response to the legislature’s 2013 report. The court held that the state’s commitment for the next biennium of approximately $1 billion (or 6.7% measured against maintenance level funding) above “current funding levels that violate the constitution” was constitutionally unacceptable.  It, therefore, ordered the state to submit, no later than April 30, 2014, “a complete plan for fully implementing its program of basic education for each school year between now and the 2017-2018 school year.” The Court added that:

We have no wish to be forced into entering specific funding directives to the State, or, as some state high courts have done, holding the legislature in contempt of court. But, it is incumbent upon the State to demonstrate, through immediate, concrete action, that it is making real and measurable progress, not simply promises.

February 12, 2014

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