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AGLO 1970 No. 079 - May 18, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington
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                                                                   May 18, 1970
 
 
 
Honorable John C. Long
Chairman, Washington State
Aeronautics Commission
8600 Perimeter Road
Boeing Field
Seattle, Washington 98108
                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 79
 
 
Dear Sir:
 
            By letter previously acknowledged, you have requested an opinion of this office upon a question which we paraphrase as follows:
 
            Where funds have been appropriated to the state aeronautics commission for the purpose of granting financial airport aid to municipalities under RCW 14.04.090, may such funds be granted only to the extent that they are matched equally on a fifty-fifty basis by the receiving municipality from its own funds?
 
            We answer your question in the affirmative, for the reasons which appear below.
 
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            The pertinent provision of RCW 14.04.090 reads as follows:
 
            ". . .
 
            "The commission may render financial assistance by grant or loan or both to any municipality or municipalities acting jointly in the planning, acquisition, construction, improvement, maintenance, or operation of an airport owned or controlled, or to be owned or controlled by such municipality or municipalities, out of appropriations made by the legislature for such purposes.  Such financial assistance may be furnished in connection with federal or other financial aid for the same purposes:  PROVIDED, That no grant or loan or both shall be in excess of one hundred thousand dollars for any one project: PROVIDED FURTHER, That no grant or loan or both shall be granted unless the municipality or municipalities acting jointly shall from their own funds match any funds made available by the commission.
 
            ". . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            The issue raised by your inquiry pertains to the interpretation to be given to the verb "match" as used in the proviso to the statute which we have underscored in quoting it above.  Under one interpretation of this proviso, the verb "match" would require that the funds put forward by a municipal corporation for a certain airport project must be absolutely equal to those granted or loaned by the aeronautics commission.  Under another interpretation, the verb "match" would signify only that the aided municipal corporation would be required to make a contribution to the project in some amount determined by the commission to represent an equitable and appropriate share of the cost of the undertaking.  Under this latter view, the commission would be vested with discretion to set the amount to be contributed by one or more municipal corporations.
 
            There are two general rules of statutory construction which, when applied to RCW 14.04.090, we believe to be determinative of its meaning.  The first is to the effect that a statute, in order to confer discretion upon an administrative agency or commission, must do so in express words of delegation.  See, Kueckelhan v. Federal Old Line Ins. Co., 69 Wn.2d 392, 418 P.2d 443 (1966), and Yelle v. Bishop, 55 Wn.2d 286, 303, 347 P.2d 1081, 1091 (1959).  The second is the rule that where a statute fails to define a word which is used therein, that word must be given its plain and ordinary meaning.  Crown Zellerbach Corporation v. State, 53 Wn.2d 813, 328 P.2d 884 (1958), appeal dismissed, cert. denied, 359 U.S. 531, 3 L.Ed.2d 1029, 79 S.Ct. 1138 (1959), and Cochran v. Nelson, 26 Wn.2d 82, 173 P.2d 769 (1946).
 
            From the standpoint of the first of these two rules, it is quite clear that RCW 14.04.090 contains no words delegating to the aeronautics commission any discretion to set the amount to be put up by the receiving municipality toward construction of its airport facilities.  Indeed, the words which are used are contained, not in the body of the statute, but in a proviso thereto.  The function of a proviso is, of course, normally to limit, rather than to expand upon, the content of the main enactment.  Monroe Calculating Machine Company v. Department of Labor and Industries, 11 Wn.2d 636, 120 P.2d 466 (1941).  Thus, we cannot find in the proviso under consideration any words of delegation to the aeronautics commission, but rather, only words of limitation upon its powers to render financial assistance.
 
            The second of the two rules spoken of above must be applied to determine the meaning of the verb "match" itself.  Though judicial authority is sparse, we find that all of the reported decisions regard the words "match" and/or "matching" as implying an equality or equivalency between sums of money or types of services.  See, e.g., United States v. New York Coffee and Sugar Exchange, Inc., 263 U.S. 611, 616, 68 L.Ed. 475, 476, 44 S.Ct. 225, 226 (1924); Self Service  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] Super Market, Inc. v. Harris, 3 N.Y.2d 615, 618, 148 N.E.2d 151, 153 (N.Y. Ct. App., 1958); and Southern Brokerage Company v. Cannarsa, 405 S.W.2d 457, 461 (Tex. Ct. Civ. App., 1966); cf., Community Council v. Jordan, 102 Ariz. 448, 454, 432 P.2d 460, 466 (1967).
 


            Recourse to dictionary definitions yields a similar result.  For example, Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary (2d ed. unabridged, 1962) at 1109, defines "match" as follows:
 
            " . . . to suit; to correspond; to be equal, similar, suitable, or corresponding in some way; to tally.  . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)
 
            From this, we think it clear that, to give the verb "match" as it appears in RCW 14.04.090 its plain and ordinary meaning, is to require that the funds contributed by municipalities under that statute be absolutely equal to those contributed by the aeronautics commission.  Nor do we think that it is any argument to the contrary to say that, since the legislature could have achieved this result by employing a different and more explicit form of words,1/ it follows that the words which were used command a different result.  We must construe the words which the legislature has used, without regard to other verbal formulations which might, perhaps, have been more explicit.  Guinness v. State, 40 Wn.2d 677, 246 P.2d 433 (1952).
 
            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
 
Very truly yours,
 
SLADE GORTON
Attorney General
 
 
CHARLES F. MURPHY
Assistant Attorney General
 
 
DONALD FOSS, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
 
 
                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***
 
1/E.g., RCW 38.52.160:  ". . . matching funds in equal amounts.  . . ."
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