McCleary: What Happens Next?

Want to understand where we are on McCleary?  Here's a good wrap-up from the Coalition to Protect our Public Schools. 

Will the Supreme Court order the Legislature back into session?  I doubt it given there were so many extra sessions already.  I think the Supreme Court has seen what "action" looks like from the Legislature.

No, I think the Court will probably act on one of the McCleary-requested actions (see below).   That will get the Legislature's attention.

Dorn brief:

This new brief is a dramatic reversal of what Dorn asked the court for in his brief on August 14 2014. A year ago, Dorn asked the court to be patient and give the legislature one more year to come up with a plan to fully fund public schools (despite the fact that the court had already granted the legislature chances in 2013 and 2014). 2015 made it “Three Strikes and Your Out.”Apparently Randy Dorn has ran out of patience and now realizes the futility of giving the legislature endless chances to comply with the Supreme Court order which was originally issued way back in 2012.

Also on July 27th, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, filed an Amicus Brief asking the Supreme Court to call the legislature back into session immediately to come up with a school funding plan. Superintendent Dorn's brief claims that an additional $3.8 billion in funding would be needed to provide full school operation funding (billions more would be needed for school construction funding). 

Randy Dorn contends that fully funding schools will require an additional $7.7 billion per two year biennium or $3.8 billion per year. Ironically, this greatly under-estimates the actual amount of additional revenue needed for several reasons. 

First, Dorn's 7 Point Plan does not lower class sizes down to either national average class sizes or the class sizes required by Initiative 1351. 

Second, the Dorn plan extends by three more years the time allowed to fully fund public schools (from 2018 to 2021). 

Third, $3.8 billion per year required to fund schools in the Dorn plan does not consider the cost of school construction needed to lower class sizes and address the school construction backlog created by the past 20 years of the state legislature ignoring the actual cost of building schools.

McCleary Brief

The plaintiff's brief reminds the court that in their 2012 order they stated:
“Year 2018 remains a firm deadline for full constitutional compliance.” 

The plaintiffs also criticized state proposals to swipe more than one billion dollars from local school districts and call it state money:
“Taking away local money that local voters approved for local enhancements above basic education, then handing it back and calling it “State” money, does not fill Washington school districts’ underfunding hole.”
 On page 49, plaintiffs ask the court to take one or more of the following actions:
(a) Enjoin the State from acting on any other legislation until it has fully complied with the court orders in this case;
(b) Invalidate all tax exemptions authorized or re-authorized after this Court’s January 2012 decision, with that invalidation lasting until the State convinces this Court that the State has fully complied with the court orders in this case.
(NOTE: There goes the Boeing $9 billion tax break!)

In the next article, we will explain why the Dorn Plan dramatically underestimates the actual cost of building and operating schools. Then, in a third article, we will explain why the billion dollar “levy swap” proposal would harm schools.

The next Legislative session starts in January 2016. 


Joe Wolf said…
From the piece:

"At a press conference on the Dorn 7 Point School Funding Plan on April 14, 2015, I specifically asked Randy Dorn if his School Funding Plan also included a way to pay for our $10 to $20 billion school construction backlog:

David Spring:

We have had billions of dollars in school construction bond failures in the past few years and we have a $10 to $20 billion dollar school construction backlog. Does your plan talk about how we are going to build schools to meet the Supreme Court requirement that the State needs to provide funding to build schools and not just operate them?

Randy Dorn:

In my plan, we do not specifically mention that. We are working with the House and the Senate on a plan and Treasurer McIntire will talk about that (with his revenue proposal). (Unfortunately, Treasurer McIntire did not talk about this and the House and Senate have also ignored the severity of the school construction problem)."

Oh, well.
Exactly, Joe. Where is the REAL discussion on how all that will happen?
Anonymous said…
July 31, 2015

The Latest on McCleary...

from Liv Finne at the Washington Policy Center:

Attorney General says State Superintendent Dorn has gone astray with his plan to shut down government

-- Dan Dempsey

First of all, WPC thinks school districts already have too much money. (I certainly won't disagree that SPS spends it the wrong things.)

Second, that AG argument, while probably true, is also the "it hurts the kids" argument we have heard when people say they don't want to vote for the school levies.

That kind of blackmail keeps people voting for levies and school board directors promising the money will go to schools.

I keep saying - someday a levy in this city will fail. Whose will it be?
Anonymous said…
Although it is not Seattle, it's as close as one can get. What happened in Shoreline when their levy failed in 1971.

Also of note in the article - a quote from an editorial by the Seattle PI (RIP) about the legislative funding of schools in 1971:

"Surveying the regional school financing debacle two days later, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial proclaimed: "The solution to the problem rests with the State Legislature which, during the most recent session, not only failed to eliminate the special levy burden on school districts, but drafted a budget which cut state support for schools .... The next legislative session ... has a clear mandate to make the crisis of public education in the state its number one priority."

It was not the first, nor would it be the last time that legislators were charged with neglecting their "paramount duty."

Ah, history. How things have changed. Or not.
Anonymous said…
There are two ways to force the issue, fund ed first and cut social services, aka, steal from the poor to make a point. Or plan B, cut corporate tax breaks.

Cut the tax breaks. It will generate a few billion in short order, and get the attention of anyone in WA who is currently ignoring the issue. Does the court have the gumption to do it?


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