Opinion

Court did its job, Legislature should, too | Editorial

We see some conservatives in our state are upset over what they see as “activism” by the state Supreme Court. Specifically, they’re peeved the court has ordered the Legislature to spend more money on education. At the same time, they’re upset the court has ruled that it only takes a simple majority for the Legislature to increase taxes.

Spending and collecting money, these lawmakers say, is the job of the Legislature.

Well, yes – and no.

Conservatives are correct that justices don’t write budgets or set tax rates. But it’s incorrect to say the courts don’t have a voice in making sure these functions are legally done.

Yes, the high court has told lawmakers the state needs to spend more money on education. But that’s because our state constitution says education is the “paramount duty” of the state. It’s hard to make the case the state is really doing that when the percent of the state budget spent on education goes down and down each year.

Lawmakers could simply take sufficient money from other state programs and give it to schools to satisfy the judges. Of course, that wouldn’t leave much money to carry out other state functions, but, hey, the judges didn’t say the task would be easy.

Which brings up the second issue: the need for only a simple majority to do so.

The high court waded in on the issue when a lawsuit was brought challenging the requirement that raising taxes takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. The judges said, according to the state constitution, that’s not so; it only takes a simple majority.

Some people might not like that, but in both cases, the judges were just doing their job – interpreting the state constitution. The Legislature now should do it’s job and fix the problem.

 

– Craig Groshart, Bellevue Reporter

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