The Joint Select Committee on Article IX Litigation, also known as the “McCleary Committee,” approved a report to the state Supreme Court saying they have fully met their constitutional requirement to fully fund basic education
The committee met Tuesday afternoon in what may have been their last meeting. On the agenda was the discussion and approval of a 16-page report outlining the ways in which the legislature is finally in full compliance with the 2012 McCleary decision. The report points to E2SSB 6362 and new appropriations in the 2018 supplemental operating budget as the “final legislative steps” necessary to meet the school funding mandate.
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In November, the Supreme Court ruled that though the funding system adopted during the 2017 legislative session (EHB 2242) would eventually put the state in compliance, the delayed timeline of the funding meant the state did not meet its constitutional funding requirement.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling and into the 2018 session, it was unclear whether or not the legislature would seek to get the state in compliance, or if they would simply “ignore the court and thank them for their input,” as Representative David Taylor suggested at the beginning of session. However, the new report outlines the exact ways in which the legislature decided to comply.
The report states that this year’s modifications to basic education funding add even more K-12 funding than last year’s EHB 2242. Since the McCleary ruling, funding for K-12 education has nearly doubled from $13.4 billion in the 2011-13 biennium to $26.7 billion in the 2019-21 biennium.
The report also notes that the 2018 supplemental operating budget adds $800 million in K-12 appropriations. The majority of this funding goes toward increasing salary allocations for school employees in the 2018-19 school year. The 2017 education spending bill phased in these salary increases over two years, but the new bill moves the timeline so that the increases occur all in one year and meet the deadline specified by the Court.
The supplemental budget also adds $26.9 million for special education funding purposes and deposits $105.2 million from the state general fund into the new “Dedicated McCleary Penalty Account” to pay for the $100,000 per day fine imposed on the legislature while they were out of compliance. The money in the account may only be spent on basic education.
The committee’s report will be included in the legal brief from the Attorney General’s Office to argue that the state has fully complied with the order.