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AGO 1953 No. 7 - April 10, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

INTERIM COMMITTEES ‑- LEGISLATIVE BUDGET COMMITTEE ‑- LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL ‑- FUNDS AVAILABLE.

 (1) The legislative budget committee may lawfully expend funds remaining from the appropriation for paying the expenses of the thirty-third legislature.

 (2) The legislative council may make available a portion of the funds appropriated to it for the expenses of the legislative budget committee.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   April 10, 1953

Honorable Mort Frayn
Speaker of the House of Representatives
2111 Parkside Drive
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 7

 Dear Sir:

            You have called our attention to substitute Senate Bill No. 400, page 3, in which the item appropriating "for the legislative budget committee:  Salaries, wages and operations, $140,000" was vetoed by the Governor.  You have inquired:

             (1) Whether or not, in our opinion, the legislative budget committee may lawfully expend funds remaining from the appropriation for paying the expenses of the thirty-third legislature.

             (2) Whether or not the legislative council may make available a portion of the funds appropriated to it for the expense of the legislative budget committee.

             It is our conclusion that both of your questions should be answered in the affirmative.

                                                                      ANALYSIS

             Chapter 44.24 RCW, as derived from chapter 43, Laws of 1951, established the legislative budget committee and provided for its selection, terms, powers, duties, rules,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] findings and reports.  It is apparent that the legislature intended this committee to serve as an interim body similar to the legislative council.  Its purpose was to make findings of fact as to means available to promote economy and efficiency in government, and to report these findings to the legislature together with any recommendations.  The act setting up the legislative budget committee is patterned after chapter 44.24 RCW, as derived from chapter 36, Laws of 1937, which set up the legislative council.  The constitutionality of this latter act was upheld in State ex rel. Hamblen v. Yelle, 29 Wn. (2d) 68.

             1.         USE OF FUNDS REMAINING FROM THE APPROPRIATION FOR LEGISLATIVE EXPENSES.

             RCW44.28.050, which is the section providing for the payment of expenses of the legislative budget committee, reads in part as follows:

             "* * * Vouchers may be drawn on funds appropriated generally by the legislature for legislative expenses * * *"

             In State ex rel. Robinson v. Fluent, 30 Wn. (2d) 194, 226, the court upheld the validity of a similar provision providing for payment of expenses of another interim committee as follows:

             "By that resolution, the legislature provided, as it had the inherent power to provide, for payment of expenses of the members of the committee from moneys appropriated * * * for the expenses of the legislature."

             This decision establishes the rule that an appropriation for incidental expenses of the legislature is available to be used for defraying expenses of interim committees.  It has no bearing, however, upon the question of how this money is to be made available or the manner in which the vouchers must be approved.

             Immediately preceding the language of RCW 44.28.050 quoted above, that same section provides:

             "All expenses incurred by the [legislative budget] committee * * * shall be paid upon voucher forms as provided by the auditor and signed by the chairman or vice chairman of the committee and attested by the secretary of said committee * * * "

              [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            The statute also extends the authority of said officers until their successors are elected.

             The other statute which authorizes the expenditure of funds from the same appropriation is RCW 44.04.060, providing for the payment of incidental expenses of the legislature.  That statute provides as follows:

             "The state auditor shall draw warrants on the state treasurer for the incidental expenses of the legislature, on presentation of certificates showing amounts due for material furnished and services rendered to dates specified.  The certificates shall be signed by the speaker or president, and countersigned by the sergeant-at-arms, respectively, of the body ordering the expenditures.  * * *"

             Since the two statutes authorize the expenditure of moneys from the same fund, the question is whether they are so inconsistent with one another that they cannot both be given effect.  If they cannot be reconciled, RCW 44.28.050, being the later act, must then be given effect to the exclusion of the other.

             RCW 44.28.050 authorizes the payment of expenses from two separate funds: (1) Those appropriated generally for legislative expenses, and (2) any special appropriation provided by the legislature for the expenses of the committee.  It provides that all expenses incurred by the committee shall be paid upon its own vouchers.  Since under the circumstances presented here, there is no special appropriation, our only inquiry is whether or not the committee may expend any funds remaining from the general legislative expense appropriation without any authorization other than its own vouchers drawn in accordance with RCW 44.28.050.

             A careful reading of RCW 44.28.050 indicates that the vouchers there provided for were intended to be merely the final approval for the actual expenditure of the money.  The language does not indicate that this statute was intended to supersede the prior statute with respect to the allocation of the money left in the general expense fund.  It would seem to follow, inevitably, that if numerous legislative committees were to be created, each with the full power to expend the entire general expense fund, the economic affairs of the legislature would soon be in chaos.  However, if both statutes are given effect, the result would be that the legislative budget committee may expend moneys from the general expense fund, subject, however, to the approval of the legislative officers indicated in RCW 44.04.060.  In our opinion, the legislature must have intended  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] that both statutes be read together and that the legislative budget committee, although authorized to use funds from the general expense appropriation, must do so upon vouchers approved not only by its own officers but also by the officers of the superior body.

             Your first question is answered in the affirmative, subject, however, to the approval of the officers indicated in RCW 44.04.060.

             2.         EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS APPROPRIATED FOR THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL.

             The budget committee may also use funds appropriated for the legislative council.  Such expenditures, however, would have to be approved upon vouchers drawn by the officers of the legislative council in accordance with RCW 44.24.060.  This statute provides in part:

             "* * * All expenses incurred by the council, including salaries of employees, shall be paid upon voucher forms * * * signed by the chairman or vice chairman of the council and attested by the secretary of said council, * * *"

             RCW 44.24.050 provides that:

             "The council shall have authority to select and employ an executive secretary, together with such other clerical, legal, accounting, research, and other assistants as it may deem desirable, * * *"  (Emphasis supplied)

             There appears to be no limitation upon the power to employ assistants, so long as the funds available are sufficient to pay for such help.

             The statutes setting up the legislative budget committee (RCW 44.28.060, 44.28.100 and 44.28.150) indicate an unmistakable legislative intent that the budget committee should cooperate very closely with the legislative council.  In fact, many of the powers of the two committees are identical.  It is obvious that the legislature intended the closest cooperation between these two bodies.  The fact that it put no limitation upon the power to defray expenses within the limits of the appropriation, merely bears out our view that the intent was to assure that cooperation, even to the point of making available to each committee, the funds appropriated for the other.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            The vouchers for the expenditure of the moneys specially appropriated to the legislative council would, however, have to be approved by the chairman and secretary of the legislative council, pursuant to the provisions of RCW 44.24.060.  The legislative budget committee could not expend this money upon its own vouchers.

             Your second question should be answered in the affirmative.

 Very truly yours,
 DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

RALPH M. DAVIS
Assistant Attorney General

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