All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Washington state Supreme Court fines legislature?

The Washington state Supreme Court earned a lot of attention this week for its ruling on sanctions against the Legislature, which the Court previously found in contempt of court. The Court’s fine of $100,000 a day is eye-popping, but from a practical standpoint is actually small potatoes compared to the billions our state spends every year on K-12 schools.

Curiously, the Court backtracked this week on a central tenet of the original McCleary ruling (for an explanation on this and other issues, see “Supreme Court ruling on education is a head-scratcher”). In the original 2012 ruling, the Court said that K-12 funding needs to be “ample”, “uniform”, and “stable”. Now the Court seems focused only on “ample provision” and said it has “no opinion” on whether levy reform is needed to make school funding uniform around the state.

The News Tribune is as confused by this as many others, writing: “The justices might have helped the cause of levy reform by re-emphasizing what they said in 2012. Failing that, they might have at least said nothing. Instead their inexplicable ‘no opinion’ will actively undermine efforts to fix the greatest inequity in Washington public education.” In its role as a clarifier, the Court failed this week. It only made the Legislature’s remaining job more confusing.

-Rob McKenna

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