Washington Supreme Court Orders ‘State’ To Contempt Hearing

By Austin Jenkins

A frustrated Washington Supreme Court appears ready to hold state officials in contempt. The high court late Thursday ordered the “state” to appear at a hearing in September to address the lack of a plan to fully fund basic education. The court’s highly unusual move follows a 2012 ruling that the state isn’t meeting its constitutional obligation to school children.

The language in the order is stark: “…the State is hereby summoned to appear before the Supreme Court to address why the State should not be held in contempt.” It’s signed by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. She’s clearly frustrated that on April 30th lawmakers missed a deadline to provide the court a completed plan to fully fund basic education by 2018.

Ross Hunter: “We’ve made a little bit of progress, but not a huge amount and that’s what the court is upset about.

Democrat Ross Hunter chairs the House budget committee. He says he doesn’t blame the court.

Ross Hunter: “They should continue to push us and I believe that they are going to continue to do it. I think that they should do it in a way that’s practical.”

By practical, Hunter means keeping the focus on what’s best for kids. The court in its order indicates that everything is on the table including monetary fines, prohibiting the legislature from spending money on non-education items and even ordering the state to sell property to fund schools. The contempt hearing is scheduled for September 3rd.

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