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April 26, 1971
Honorable Harry B. Lewis
State Senator, 22nd District
Olympia, Washington 98501 Cite as: AGLO 1971 No. 66 (not official)
Dear Senator Lewis:
This is written in response to your letter dated April 13, 1971, regarding state employee payroll deductions.
In posing your questions, you have made reference to RCW 41.04.230. As most recently amended by § 11, chapter 39, Laws of 1970, Ex. Sess., this statute commences with the following authorization:
"Any official of the state authorized to disburse funds in payment of salaries and wages of public officers or employees is authorized, upon written request of the officer or employee, to deduct each month from the salaries or wages of the officers or employees, the amount of money designated by the officer or employee for payment of the following:
". . ."
Following this preamble there are set forth a list of some seven types of authorized deductions, including credit union deductions, parking fee deductions, U.S. savings bond deductions, board, lodging or uniform deductions, dues and other fees deductions, accident and casualty premiums, and health care insurance contributions. Then, in addition, the statute goes on to provide that:
"Deductions from salaries and wages of public officers and employees other than those enumerated in this section or by other law, may be authorized by the budget director for purposes clearly related to state employment or goals and objectives of the agency."
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
And finally, this statute concludes with the following paragraph:
"The authority to make decisions from the salaries and wages of public officers and employees as provided for in this section shall be in addition to such other authority as may be provided by law."
Your first question relating to this statute is whether the language thereof, authorizing deductions for "purposes clearly related to state employment or goals or objectives of the agency" constitutes the authority ". . . for making payroll deductions for Pulse?"
In order to respond to this specific question, it will be necessary that we be advised as to the factual background relating thereto. We understand, generally, that the term "Pulse" relates to an adjunct ot the Washington education association; however, we are advised by the responsible employees in the office of program planning and fiscal management that they have no knowledge of any payroll deductions presently being made for this purpose under the foregoing, or any other statute. In any event, the question of whether deductions for this purpose may be said to be authorized under any of the provisions of RCW 41.04.230 can be answered only on the basis of the aforesaid background facts.
Turning, then, to your second inquiry, it seems apparent from the language of the paragraph in RCW 41.04.230 which follows the list of specifically authorized types of deductions that the function of determining whether or not particular purposes for payroll deductions are ". . . clearly related to state employment or goals or objectives of the agency . . ." is a function which is vested in the state budget director.
Moreover, responding to your next question, this function on the part of the budget director merely consists of adding those ". . . purposes clearly related to state employment or goals or objectives of the agency . . ." to the legislatively promulgated list of legally permissible payroll deduction objects. It does not, however, in any way supersede or overcome the basic enabling aspect of the statute ‑ i.e., that payroll deductions for any of the legislatively specified purposes, or for such further purposes which may be added to the list by action of the budget director, be made only on the basis of individual state officer or employee authorization. In other words, no payroll deductions can be made at all, under the subject [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] statute, for any purposes except on the basis of authorization by the particular state officer or employee from whose salary the moneys in question are to be deducted.
Finally, in so far as the question of "bookkeeping cost" is concerned, this, as we view it, is an individual agency's cost to be borne by each state department or agency which has a payroll from which authorized deductions are to be made. Cf., RCW 43.09.210.
We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General