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AGO 1953 No. 23 - April 30, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

VETERANS' BONUS ‑- ADMINISTRATION EXPENSES ‑- CHANGES IN AUDITOR'S ESTIMATES ‑- LIMITATION UPON BY 1953 APPROPRIATION.

 1. The Governor has power to revise State Auditor's estimate of expense of administering Veterans' Bonus Act.

 2. State Auditor's authority to incur expenses for the administration of the Veterans' Bonus Act is limited by the 1953 appropriation.

 

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                                                                   April 30, 1953 

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 23

 Attention:  !ttMr. H. C. Ashenfelter, Administrator,Division of Veterans' Compensation 

Dear Sir:

             Your letter of April 10, 1953, presents the following two questions:

             1. Was there any authorization for the changes made in the detailed items of estimated expense as set forth in the State Auditor's Estimate submitted through the Budget Director to the Governor prior to the last session of the Legislature?

             2. Does the State Auditor have authority to incur expenses for the administration of the Veterans' Bonus Act without regard to the limitations of the itemized appropriations made by the 1953 Legislature for such expenses?

             Our conclusion is that the first question must be answered in the affirmative and that the second question must be answered in the negative.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             1. The state budget law, chapter 43.86 RCW, specifically provides that the  Orig. Op. Page 2 Governor, in making up his preliminary budget for submission to the Legislature, may revise the estimates of expense for the ensuing biennium as submitted by the state departments, including elective offices.  In making such revision, the Governor may increase, decrease, eliminate, or add new items to any estimate in the budget.  RCW 43.86.060.

             2. The Veterans' Bonus Act of 1949 authorizes the State Auditor to procure such printing, office supplies and equipment, and to employ such persons as may be necessary to properly carry out the provisions of the Act.  RCW 73.32.050.  (Section 4, chapter 180, Laws of 1949).  The same section provides that all expenses incurred by the Auditor in the administration of the Act shall be paid by warrants drawn upon the war veterans' compensation fund.

             By section 8 of the Veterans' Bonus Act now codified as RCW 73.32.120, the Legislature made an appropriation from the compensation fund in the amount of $80,000,000.00 for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Act.  This was a lump sum appropriation and included the administration expenses which RCW 73.32.050 authorizes the State Auditor to incur.  This appropriation was for the biennium ending March 31, 1951.

             By chapter 10, Extraordinary Session 1951, page 63, the Legislature again made an appropriation from the war veterans' compensation fund "for administration and compensation for veterans of World War II."  This appropriation was broken down into specific items for (1) salaries and wages, (2) operations, and (3) war veterans' compensation.  It was for a total of $18,146,216.43, but with the limitation that it should not exceed the unexpended balance of the 1951 appropriation.  This appropriation was for the 1951-53 biennium.

             A similar itemized appropriation from the war veterans' compensation fund for the administration of the Act and for payment of veterans' compensation was made by the last Legislature by chapter 288, Laws of 1953, pages 801-802.  This appropriation totaled $12,793,302.00 and was likewise limited to the amount of the unexpended balance of the 1949 appropriation.

             The 1951 and 1953 appropriations were re‑appropriations of the original appropriation made in 1949.  The only difference is that in 1951 and 1953, there was an itemization and apportionment of the funds as to administration expenses and payments to veterans.  The appropriation for administration expenses was further broken down into classifications for salaries and wages, and operations.

              Orig. Op. Page 3

            Our state constitution prohibits expenditure of state funds except in pursuance of an appropriation.  Article VIII, section 4, Washington Constitution as amended by the Eleventh Amendment.  It is therefore our opinion that it was the legislative intent that the expenses of administration of the Veterans' Bonus Act for the current biennium be limited as itemized in the 1953 appropriation.

 Very truly yours,
 DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

FRED L. HARLOCKER
Assistant Attorney General

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