Court recognizes Legislature’s historic education investments

A ruling today by the Washington State Supreme Court largely endorses the bipartisan school-funding reforms recently adopted by the Legislature in line with the 2012 McCleary ruling, according to Sen. John Braun.

“Providing students with the support they need and deserve required us to solve a generational problem with a generational solution, which resulted in a historic funding infusion for our schools,” said Braun, R-Centralia, who served as a member of the bipartisan education funding negotiating team. “The Legislature brought this situation on itself by shirking its responsibility to public schools for decades. Over the past five years we have demonstrated that only by making education our top priority could we pay for schools in a way that works for students, teachers and taxpayers. Judging from today’s ruling, our way also works for the court.”

Since 2012, the Legislature will have increased state funding for public schools from $6,639 per student to $11,996 by the 2019-20 school year, according to Braun. That translates to an additional $13 billion in total state funding for K-12 education.

Lawmakers also passed property tax reforms earlier this year to address an overreliance on local property-tax levies to pay for what is ultimately the state’s responsibility to fund basic education.

Today’s court decision pointed out how the 2019 date for final funding doesn’t match the Legislature’s original plan to have changes in place by 2018. Braun said the later date resulted from the complexity of the bipartisan reforms.

“The court has clearly played a critical role in getting the attention of lawmakers and the public with its original ruling and continued oversight,” said Braun. “However, implementing historic funding increases that actually work across 295 school districts and reforming property-tax collections throughout 39 different counties forced us to develop this specific timeline. The final agreement enabled us to make historic education investments that would be stable and practical to implement, as opposed to the alternative of years of roller coaster budgets for schools.”

Braun recently published a compendium of the Legislature’s actions on K-12 education funding since 2012 in the latest edition of “Economic Sense” which can be viewed at