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May 7, 1970
Honorable Louis Bruno
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Old Capitol Building
Olympia, Washington 98501
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 76
By letter previously acknowledged, you have requested the advice of this office on a question concerning the appropriation in chapter 282, Laws of 1969, 1st Ex. Sess., for salary improvements for school district employees. This appropriation reads, in material part, as follows:
"General Fund Appropriation for Salary Increases:
PROVIDED, That it is the intent that $80,510,675 be available to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to be allocated for the school years 1969-70 and 1970-71 to local school districts, of which $72,017,866 is contained in this appropriation and $8,492,809 which is to be appropriated by the Forty-second Legislature, to be employed exclusively for the purpose of providing salary increases and to pay for related OASI and retirement costs attendant to such salary increases to all certificated personnel in average amounts of seven percent in 1969-70 over each district's average certificated salary level for 1968-69 and in average amounts of seven percent for all classified personnel over the district's average classified salary level for 1968-69 and an additional four per cent in 1970-71 over each district's average salary level for 1969-70 for all classified personnel and for all certificated personnel: PROVIDED That the salary increase required for 1970-71 for certificated and non-certificated employees shall be based on the 1968-69 average salary for each class of employee improved by seven percent: PROVIDED, That the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall establish rules and regulations to carry out the intent of the Legislature for the distribution of salary increase money provided for in this appropriation: . . .
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
Under the third proviso contained in the above quoted portion of this appropriation, you, as the Superintendent of Public Instruction, are charged with the responsibility for establishing rules and regulations ". . . to carry out the intent of the Legislature . . ." with respect to the distribution of the amounts provided for therein. As we understand it, you are currently engaged in the process of developing the rules to be followed in connection with school district eligibility for monies from the appropriation for the second year of the biennium ‑ i.e., the 1970-71 school year. The essence of your proposed rules, in accordance with your interpretation of legislative intent, is that:
"Salary improvements for 1970-71 shall be four percent above the 1968-69 average level improved by seven percent in 1969-70."
Or, as you have explained your interpretation in your letter to us,
"We have interpreted this appropriation to mean that a school district qualifies for its share of the 1970-71 salary improvement appropriation if the 1970-71 average salary level of its certificated and classified employees is equal to 111.28 percent of its average salary level in 1968-69, even though the district made the entire increase in 1969-70 and made no additional increase in 1970-71."
Of course, since in this case the basic function of ascertaining and expressing the intent of the legislature is vested by the language of the appropriation in your office, our role in providing legal counsel to you in regard to the matter is simply one of (a) advising you as to the defensibility of your interpretation, as you have stated it; and (b) assisting you, procedurally, in implementing this interpretation in accordance with the requirements of the state administrative procedures act governing agency rule making.
With this in mind, we may advise you at this time that based upon the principles of statutory construction which are applicable to the issues raised by the language of the appropriation in question, it is our opinion that your interpretation thereof ‑ in terms of school district eligibility [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] for salary improvement funds for the 1970-71 school year ‑ is one which we believe can be successfully defended if challenged; and we stand ready to counsel you on the procedures to be followed in establishing the implementing rules and regulations you have decided to promulgate.
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Assistant Attorney General
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General