- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The Legislature doesn’t need legal sanctions to comply with a 2012 court mandate to obey orders from the Washington Supreme Court to fully pay for basic education, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said.

The News Tribune reports ( http://tinyurl.com/mpdhuy6 ) that Ferguson issued the state’s reply Thursday to a brief filed earlier this month by the group of parents, education groups and school districts that successfully sued the state over inadequate funding of schools. The attorney representing that coalition of parents and education groups had told the Supreme Court it should hold the Legislature in contempt for not obeying its directive.

The Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary decision said lawmakers are not meeting their constitutional responsibility to fully pay for basic education, and they are relying too much on local tax-levy dollars to balance the education budget.

In January, the Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to make immediate and real progress this year toward fully funding the state’s public schools and create a plan for completing the work by the 2017-2018 school year.

The Legislature made its required annual progress report to the court recently, focusing on the ideas they discussed during the 2014 session for improving the way the state pays for public schools. Few of those ideas made it to the governor’s desk. The lawyer for the parents, Thomas Ahearne, said that response was inadequate.

In Thursday’s filing to the Supreme Court, Ferguson said the state shares the Supreme Court’s goal of fully funding education and that Ahearn’s arguments “to the contrary are unfounded and unproductive. No sanction is necessary to compel continued progress.”