- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Nineteen senators signed a letter Friday saying that the Washington state Supreme Court has overstepped its authority by ordering the state to pay sanctions because of lack of progress on an education funding plan.

The letter, signed by 18 Republicans and one Democrat who caucuses with them, was sent to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House, and Senate Democratic leadership. It argues that the court’s order last week that the state set aside $100,000 a day in a segregated education account violates not only the state constitution, but the federal constitution as well.

The letter urges lawmakers to consider the “political, legal, and constitutional responses” to what it says it a challenge to the legislative role.

Last week’s ruling was the latest development in a long-running impasse between lawmakers and the 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.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement saying that the lawmakers “should not be looking for a constitutional crisis, they should be looking for an education solution.”

Inslee said he had a call with legislative leaders of both caucuses in the House and Senate on Friday in which he asked them to appoint members to work in a bipartisan group to address the education funding issue. A spokeswoman for Inslee said that all of the caucuses, except for Senate Republicans, agreed.

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