Did state lawmakers get message after Supreme Court found Legislature in contempt?

OLYMPIA -- The state Supreme Court found the Legislature in contempt of court Thursday, saying the Legislature has refused to fully funded education as mandated by the 2012 McCleary v. State decision.

According to Supreme Court documents, the justices said the Legislature violated court orders by failing to submit a complete plan for fully implementing its program of fully funded basic education for each school year between now and the 2017-2018 school year.

Though the Legislature is in contempt, the court will hold off imposing sanctions in hopes the state will comply with the court order sometime during the 2015 legislative session.

But the state court reserves the right to dole out sanctions, it said Thursday.

"If by adjournment of the 2015 legislative session the State has not purged the contempt by complying with the court's order, the court will reconvene to impose sanctions and other remedial measures as necessary," the court wrote.

State School Superintendent Randy Dorn said, "I’m pleased that the Supreme Court held the state in contempt. It should come as no surprise: Very simply, contempt means that the state has refused to comply with a direct order of the Court. In January 2014, the Court told the state to produce a plan to achieve full funding. The state failed to do that.

"The Court should have been specific about the ramifications of not making adequate progress on full funding. I would have been more firm. ... Now the state needs to get to work."

Mari Taylor, president of the Washington State School Directors' Association, said, "The court got it right. Our state legislators must uphold the constitutional mandate to make sure all our students can attend amply funded schools. The clock is ticking and it’s time to come up with the money."

The McLeary v. State of Washington decision in 2012 decreed the state was woefully underfunding education, and needed to inject upwards of $5 billion in the system annually by 2018.

For more on the ramifications and details of the McCleary decision, click here.