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A Plan For A Plan: Lawmakers Commit To Finding Solution To McCleary School Funding Case By 2017

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo

After spending years debating possible ways out of the quagmire of state education funding, lawmakers from both parties and both houses announced Friday they may have a plan to fix the way the state pays for education.

Four years after the Supreme Court ruled the way the state pays for education is unconstitutional, the Washington Legislature is still debating how to finish responding to the court. They are working under a contempt order and a daily $100,000 fine until they do.

A bill introduced Friday would convene a task force of state House and Senate Democrats and Republicans with a January 2017 deadline to recommend how to fix the most vexing part of the education funding problem: overreliance on local school levies to pay for basic education. Some would call it: a plan for a plan.
“It’s taking more time than I would like and I think that any of us would like," said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington. "I wish we had something on the table that we could pass in the upcoming session."

But the problem is complex, Sullivan said. Other lawmakers noted the possible solutions are politically polarizing.

Meanwhile, the McCleary plaintiffs have urged the court to consider imposing even more drastic penalties, such as voiding all state tax exemptions or shutting down the school system, in an effort to spur lawmakers to act with more urgency.

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.