Stating that the legislature had committed $969 million to fully fund higher education salaries for 2018-2019, as ordered by the State Supreme Court last November, Washington’s Attorney General argued in a brief filed last month that the State had now fully complied with the Court’s requirement in its 2012 order in McCleary v. State that adequate funding for a basic education be fully achieved within six years. He requested, therefore, that the Court now declare that the State has achieved full compliance with article IX, section 1 of the Washington Constitution and with the McCleary decision, that the State has purged contempt and paid the fines the Court had imposed as a sanction, and that the funds accumulated for the fines be expended to support basic education in Washington.
Plaintiffs in their brief agreed the State has now complied with the requirements of the final judgment in the McCleary case and with the Supreme Court’s remedial orders and that the state’s funding formula should be permitted to go into effect for next year. Nevertheless, they argue that there has been no trial on the question of whether the State’s new funding levels comply with the requirements of Article IX, section 1, and whether this funding level provides the amount of “ample funding” needed to meet the state’s “paramount duty” to fully fund public education on an on-going basis in light of current needs.
In essence, plaintiffs are arguing that the courthouse door should be open to plaintiffs who may want to claim in another suit that the State’s new funding does not comply with Article IX, section 1.
Washington’s Paramount Duty, “a non-profit advocacy organization with a single mission: to compel Washington to amply fund basic education,” filed an amicus brief arguing that the State’s current education per capita funding level is below the national average, and that many special education costs have been illegally delegated to local levy funding They asked the Court to retain jurisdiction to ensure that the state is, in fact, meeting current constitutional requirements. Plaintiffs responded to these arguments in a supplementary brief that agreed with the amicus curiae that evidence will show that the new formula is not meeting current needs, but plaintiffs maintained that the proper procedure is for the Supreme Court to terminate the McCleary case, but in doing so to indicate that if a new case is filed, the trial court should expedite its proceedings.