State asks court to halt huge fines over education funding

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state of Washington says it is making progress complying with a court order to change the way it pays for K-12 schools and is urging the Supreme Court to cease daily fines of $100,000 after it found the state in contempt.

In a brief filed Friday afternoon in connection with the court’s ruling in 2012 that lawmakers weren’t meeting their constitutional responsibility to fully fund basic education, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the “Legislature has not sat on its hands” and said the justices should dissolve their contempt order.

The Supreme Court gave the Legislature until the 2017-18 school year to fix the problem, and ultimately found the Legislature in contempt in 2014 before sanctioning them last year.

Since the ruling lawmakers have spent more than $2 billion to address issues raised in the lawsuit, but lawmakers and other government officials have estimated the Legislature needs to add about $3.5 billion to the state’s two-year budget to comply with the court’s order.