Washington Lawmakers in the Hot Seat Over Education

Last week the Washington Supreme Court released acknowledgement that they plan to hold the Legislature in contempt for the little progress that is required to mend the manner in which the state funds public education. As of now there won’t be any punishments dealt out until well after the 2015 session though.

If the Washington Supreme does not see any action from the lawmakers they plan to impose sanctions and take various other corrective measures. Lawmakers have until the end of the session to get in gear and make the appropriate changes. As of now the court is proposing sanctions that will include fines for the entire Legislature or possible individual lawmakers. They are also proposing to rewrite the budget and revoke tax exemptions.

Sen. Bruce Dammeirer, R – Puyallup says, “It needs to get fixed now, but there is some appreciation that there were legislatures well before us that got us into this thing.” Dammeier is the leader on education issues for the Republican Majority Coalition Caucus and while he feels that “no one like being found in contempt”, he can also appreciate the serious tone issued from the court.

The most recent budget meeting prompted lawmakers to add roughly $1 billion to education funding, which in theory sounds great. The Legislature is split, however – Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate – and this has led them to a stalemate. They cannot come to an agreement on where to cut and the best way to raise taxes to appease the court.

The high court is not buying any of these excuses and is less than impressed with lawmakers lack of appropriate action, as was clearly shown by the signed statement that was presented by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. In the statement she writes, “Contempt is the means by which a court enforces compliance with its lawful orders when they are not followed.”

Washington lawmakers held in contempt on education. (2014, September 11). Retrieved September 19, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/washington-supreme-court-holds-state-in-contempt/2014/09/11/e0854abc-39d2-11e4-a023-1d61f7f31a05_story.html

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