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AGO 1955 No. 165 - December 02, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

ALLOCATIONS FROM GOVERNOR'S EMERGENCY FUNDS ‑- DEFICIENCIES

Where there was in insufficient appropriation to discharge claims arising from medical services authorized by the Department of Health the governor may make allocations from the $1,000,000 emergency fund appropriated by the 1955 Extra Session, but not from the $250,000 fund set up by chapter 53, Laws of 1955.

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                                                                December 2, 1955

Honorable E. D. Brabrook
Director
Department of Budget
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 165


Dear Sir:

            In your letter of October 26, 1955, you have referred to a fiscal problem which is an outgrowth of the transfer of the responsibility for providing medical and related services from the Department of Health to the Department of Public Assistance.  The effective date of this act (chapter 273, Laws of 1955) was July 1, 1955.  You inquire whether or not the governor may legally make an allocation to the Department of Health from either of his two emergency funds for the purpose of paying these claims.

            We answer in the negative as to one fund, and in the affirmative as to the other.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 53, Laws of 1955, made an appropriation to the Department of Health for medical services of $4,900,000.  This chapter made appropriations for  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] the three‑month interim period, April 1, 1955, to June 30, 1955.  An additional appropriation for medical services was made to the Department of Health in the amount of $2,800,000.  Chapter 16, Laws of 1955, Ex. Sess.  This was the amount estimated to be required to discharge obligations incurred prior to July 1, 1955.  The two appropriations were not sufficient.

            Claims have been submitted by doctors, dentists, druggists, hospitals, and merchants for medical services or supplies.  It appears that there are but two alternatives available:

            (1) Require these people to carry these accounts until the next legislature makes a deficiency appropriation, or

            (2) Ask the governor to make an allocation from his emergency funds.

            We understand that the first course of action would work financial hardships in many instances.  Chapter 53, Laws of 1955, contains the following appropriation at page 368:

            "For the Governor:

            "To be allocated to various state departments, offices and institutions for salaries, wages, operations, and emergency construction or repairs of public buildings:Provided, That this appropriation shall become available only upon filing with the Secretary of State, from time to time, allotments to said departments, offices and institutions, setting forth the purpose and amount allotted therefor, approved by the Governor * * * $250,000.00."

            The pertinent inquiry is whether the term "operations" is broad enough to include medical services.  Section 1, chapter 53, Laws of 1955, contains this definition of the term at page 345:

            "The word 'operations,' whenever used in this act, shall mean and include necessary traveling expenses  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] of officers and employees, and all expenses necessary for housing cost, supplies, material, services and maintenance of the various institutions, departments and offices of the state government, other than salaries and wages:  * * *"

            On page 358 of this chapter we note that operations is carried as a series of items separate and distinct from the items for medical services.

            We conclude that the governor's emergency fund appropriated in said chapter 53 may not be allocated for the purpose of discharging obligations owing for medical services.

            Chapter 16, Laws of 1955, Ex. Sess., carries the following appropriation at page 1832:

            "For the Governor:

            "To be allocated to various state departments, offices and institutions for salaries, wages, operations, for the carrying on of the necessary work required by law of any department, office, or institution for which insufficient or no appropriation has been made, and emergency construction or repairs of public buildings:  Provided, That this appropriation shall become available only upon filing with the Secretary of State, from time to time, allotments to said departments, offices and institutions, setting forth the purpose and amount allotted therefor, approved by the Governor * * * $1,000,000.00."

            It seems clear that this language contemplates the precise predicament with which the Department of Health is presently confronted.  We conclude that the governor may validly allocate moneys from this fund for the purpose of discharging these obligations.

            We hope the foregoing analysis will prove helpful.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


ANDY G. ENGEBRETSEN
Assistant Attorney General

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