Brossoit: Supreme Court justices ‘clearly upset’ about state’s noncompliance with education funding mandate

Nick Brossoit

Nick Brossoit

Justices from the state’s top court sharply questioned an attorney representing the Legislature on Wednesday over why lawmakers shouldn’t be held in contempt for not providing a plan to adequately fund Washington’s public schools, our online news partner The Seattle Times reported. Also attending the 50-minute session was Edmonds School District Superintendent Nick Brossoit, who told My Edmonds News following the proceeding that “clearly the court is upset with the state” for not complying with the court’s 2012 ruling.

Brossoit attended the session in his capacity as president of the statewide Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS), which includes in its membership 203 school districts representing nearly 90 percent of Washington’s public school students. NEWS was launched in October 2005 “when it became clear that action was needed to force the State to make good on its promise to each and every child in Washington,” according to the organization website.

According to the Times report, the unusual proceeding was the latest clash between the Legislature and the high court arising from the 2012 ruling in which the court declared lawmakers are violating the constitutional rights of the state’s 1 million schoolchildren by failing to live up to the state constitution’s requirement to provide them with a basic education.

The nine justices of the state Supreme Court repeatedly asked why they should believe the Legislature’s promise that it will make more progress in the 2015 budget session than it has in all other sessions since the court’s 2012 landmark school-funding decision, the Times said. The court called for the hearing in April, after the state failed to craft a funding plan by the end of the 2014 legislative session.

Brossoit told My Edmonds News it is unclear when the court will make a decision about whether to hold the state in contempt for failing to comply with its ruling. “We hope that the court will be wise enough to know what consequences to use to get the state to act,” he said.

“A court order is not a suggestion; it’s an order,” Brossoit added. “A million schoolchildren in our state are counting on us to get this figured out.”

You can watch the videotaped archive of the court’s session on TVW here.

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4 Comments

  1. Would love to see a follow-up on this story. Perhaps one of your readers with a law background can explain what, exactly, the court can do. Put those responsible for not following a court order in jail? That’s what happens to private citizens isn’t it?

  2. Eliminating tax loopholds and/or having a non-progressive income tax on earnings over $100,000 would go a long, if not all, the way. Increasing the sales tax further would bring a needed tax rebellion, which mighy not be a bad idea!

  3. In reality, there is very little the court can do,other than to declare a budget unconstitutional and, probably, thereby shut down state government. The Constitution requires the State to provide “ample” support for education of its youth. It is up to the legislature to define “ample”. They have and the can just as easily do so again. The Court and the Legislature are co-equal branches of government. Neither has much authority over the doings of the other, which is as it should be.

  4. Thanks Mike, I knew there would be someone out there with the knowledge to shed some light.

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