OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the state pay $100,000 a day in sanctions, starting immediately, for its lack of progress toward fully paying the cost of basic education.
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.
Most states have faced lawsuits over the way they pay for education, but few have seen that conflict result in a contempt order like the one issued in Washington, one expert said.
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.’’
The lawsuit against the state was brought by a coalition of school districts, parents, teachers, and education groups — known as the McCleary case for the family named in the suit.
In its original ruling, and repeated in later follow-up rulings, the justices have told the Legislature to find a way to pay for the reforms and programs they had already adopted, including all-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes, student transportation, and classroom supplies, and to fix the state’s overreliance on local tax levies to pay for education. Relying heavily on local tax levies leads to big disparities in funding between school districts, experts say....