by David Safier
Thursday's order, signed by all nine justices of the high court, ordered that the fine start immediately, and be put into a dedicated education account.The situation sounds very similar to what's going on in Arizona.
The ruling was the latest development in a long-running impasse between lawmakers and justices, who in 2012 ruled that the state is failing to meet its constitutional duty to pay for the cost of basic education for its 1 million schoolchildren.The details are different. The biggest issue in the Washington case is that school districts are overly dependent on local taxes to fund the schools, which leads to big disparities in funding levels, district to district. Arizona's per student funding may be ridiculously low, but the pain is spread out reasonably evenly. Some of our districts figure out ways to get more money in their coffers than others, but it's nowhere near the disparity you find in some other states.
Thomas Ahearne, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said that the court's action "is long overdue."
"The state has known for many, many years that it's violating the constitutional rights of our public school kids," Ahearne said. "And the state has been told by the court in rulings in this case to fix it, and the state has just been dillydallying along."