State Supreme Court to lawmakers: Explain why you shouldn't be held in contempt

OLYMPIA -- The state Supreme Court is poised to decide whether to hold the Legislature in contempt for not fully funding basic education.

The court will hold an unprecedented session Wednesday to hear from state lawmakers about their failure to craft a plan by last April, the court’s deadline.

To see an earlier, related story, click here.

In 2012, the Justices issued their historic McCleary v. State of Washington decision, ruling that the Legislature had been woefully underfunding basic education.  The Court argued that upwards of $4 billion to $5 billion needed to be added annually by 2018.

State Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn is calling on the justices to hold the Legislature’s feet to the fire.  His office issued the following statement:

“The Court should make clear that there will be certain consequences, including, if necessary, a requirement that the State be barred from funding non-education elements of the budget.”

Dorn did say, however, that the court should give lawmakers one more opportunity to step up to their duty.  “This is an election year, so there will be a new legislature in 2015,” he said.

Lawmakers have allocated an extra $1 billion for public schools, but have remained deadlocked about finding more.

Democrats, who control the state House of Representatives, have generally wanted to raise new revenue to fulfill the mandate; Republicans, who control the state Senate, have generally wanted to find savings in the rest of the budget.