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AGO 1967 No. 10 - March 21, 1967
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


OFFICES AND OFFICERS - STATE - BUDGET DIRECTOR - AUTHORITY TO APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE ON A PIECE MEAL BASIS REVISION OF SALARY SCHEDULE OF CIVIL SERVICE EMPLOYEES BY PERSONNEL BOARD.

When the state personnel board makes a revision of the salary schedule for classified employees under the state civil service system, which revision effects changes in the salaries attached to several classes of positions, the budget director does not have the authority to approve or disapprove, on a piece meal basis, specific items in such revised salary schedule.

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                                                                  March 21, 1967

Honorable Robert H. Boysen
Acting Director
Department of Personnel
General Administration Building
Olympia, Washington

                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGO 1967 No. 10

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which we have paraphrased as follows:

            When the state personnel board makes a revision of the salary schedule for classified employees under the state civil service system, which revision effects changes in the salaries attached to several classes of positions, does the budget director have authority to approve or disapprove, on a piece meal basis, specific items in such revised salary schedule?

            We answer your question in the negative as explained in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Preliminarily, we should note that there is at present no actual dispute concerning the powers of the budget director in regard to the question which you have raised.  However,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] uncertainties and misunderstandings which have arisen in the past necessitate some clarification for future guidance.

            Our present civil service system for state employees was adopted by the people of the state of Washington, through their approval of Initiative 207, at the November, 1960, state general election.  The act thus adopted is now codified as chapter 41.06 RCW.  The general purpose of the act is set forth in RCW 41.06.010, as follows:

            "The general purpose of this chapter is to establish for the state a system of personnel administration based on merit principles and scientific methods governing the appointment, promotion, transfer, layoff, recruitment, retention,classification and pay plan, removal, discipline and welfare of its civil employees, and other incidents of state employment.  All appointments and promotions to positions, and retention therein, in the state service, shall be made on the basis of policies hereinafter specified."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            In order to achieve this result, a separate and independent department of personnel was created.  Pursuant to RCW 41.06.030, the department is headed by a three member personnel board, and is administered by a director.  The subject matter over which the personnel board is required to exercise administrative responsibility is set forth in RCW 41.06.150.  That section, in so far as is pertinent to your inquiry, provides as follows:

            "The board shall adopt and promulgate rules and regulations, consistent with the purposes and provisions of this chapter and with the best standards of personnel administration, regarding the basis for, and procedures to be followed for, . . .adoption and revision of a state salary schedule to reflect not less than the prevailing rates in Washington state private industries and other governmental units for positions of a similar nature, such adoption and revision subject to approval by the state budget director in accordance with provisions of chapter 328, Laws of 1959 [chapter 43.88 RCW]; . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Those personnel boards having existence under prior law were abolished.  See, RCW 41.06.230.  The authority which the budget director previously exercised with respect to salaries of subordinate state officers and employees was repealed.  See, § 32, chapter 1, Laws of 1961 (RCW 43.41.020), which deleted from law the provisions of RCW 43.41.020 (4).1/

             Thus, it is to be seen that responsibility for the promulgation and revision of a state salary schedule covering all positions in the classified service is now vested in the state personnel board rather than in the office of the budget director.  As we have noted, the personnel board is required, by RCW 41.06.150, supra, to adopt a state salary schedule providing salaries for state employment at least equal to the prevailing rates in Washington state private  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] industries and in other governmental units for positions of a similar nature.  See, also, AGO 65-66 No. 74, copy enclosed.

            However, the adoption and revision of this salary schedule is,

            ". . . subject to approval by the state budget director in accordance with provisions of chapter 328, Laws of 1959 (chapter 43.88 RCW); . . ."

            Thus, although the budget director's previous authority to set salaries has been repealed (§ 32, chapter 1, Laws of 1961, supra), it is nevertheless necessary to examine the powers of the budget director as set forth in the budget and accounting act.2/

             By that act, the legislature established a comprehensive and complete budget and accounting system for all activities of state government, which was designed to provide an efficient, modern system for management of the fiscal affairs of the state.  See,Yelle v. Bishop, 59 Wn.2d 286, 347 P.1081 (1959).3/

             [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            We have carefully examined the budget and accounting act for any provision which would give either authority or responsibility to the budget director to selectively approve or disapprove specific salary changes with respect to individual positions, or classes of positions, as contained in a revised salary schedule adopted by the personnel board.  We have found none.  It can, therefore, be categorically stated that there is no conflict between the provisions of the budget and accounting act and the state civil service law.  The two acts should be read together as serving different purposes.

            The budget and accounting act contains a provision (RCW 43.88.160) which requires the governor, through the office of the budget director, to issue rules and regulations for the purpose of promoting efficient public management in state government.  Subsection (1) (c) of this statute provides the office of the budget director with authority to review pay and classification plans and changes thereunderfor their fiscal impact only.  Subsections (1) (a) and (d) of this statute require the budget director to regulate theauthorized man years of employment for each agency.4/

             [[Orig. Op. Page 6]]

            A reading together, and comparison, of the provisions of RCW 41.06.150,supra, and RCW 43.88.160, supra, leads us  [[Orig. Op. Page 7]] to conclude that the authority of the budget director is simply to review the overall salary schedule as adopted, or as from time to time revised, by the state personnel board for its fiscal impact.  Based upon this criteria, the budget director may approve or disapprove the overall salary schedule as initially adopted, or the revised schedule as, from time to time, subsequently adopted by the personnel board.5/

             It is to be noted that the civil service law is not merely a grant of authority to the state personnel board.  The law specifically grants to each employee of the state of Washington (except those employees expressly exempted) a right to have the subjects listed in RCW 41.06.150, supra, acted on by the personnel board only after notice and in an open meeting.  See RCW 41.06.140, which provides as follows:

            "It shall be the duty of the board to make rules and regulations providing for employee participation in the development and administration of personnel policies.  To assure this right, personnel policies, rules, classification and pay plans, and amendments thereto, shall be acted on only after the board has given twenty days notice to, and considered proposals from, employee representatives and agencies affected.  Complete and current compilations of all rules and regulations of the board in printed, mimeographed or multigraphed form shall be available to the public in the office of the director of personnel free of charge."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 8]]

            It is a fair summary of the statutes previously noted that each employee within the classified service has a right to receive the salary payable, under the approved salary schedule, to persons occupying the class in which his position is located.  Under rules promulgated by the personnel board pursuant to RCW 41.06.140,supra, every employee, as well as employee representatives and the various state agencies subject to the civil service act, has a right to request the personnel board to review its comprehensive classification and salary plans with respect to one or more classes therein.  See also, RCW 41.06.140 41.06.140,supra.

            Personnel board rules further require that when such a request is received by the board, it has a duty to hold a hearing and to consider evidence and arguments presented by employees, their representatives or affected agencies.  Accord, RCW 41.06.140,supra.  It seems significant that the very act which provided for public meetings on salary schedule adoption and revision by the personnel board also contained the deletion, previously noted, of the budget director's previous authority to set state employees' salaries.  See § 32, chapter 1, Laws of 1961,supra.

            The office of the budget director, as an agency affected by the actions of the state personnel board, undoubtedly has the right to be notified, and to appear and be heard at the personnel board meetings which are held for the purpose of amending the state salary schedule, or changing classifications of employees.  It further is to be seen that as a result of personnel board action, the budget director may find a need for immediate and direct action to enforce his regulations pertaining to manpower.6/

             [[Orig. Op. Page 9]]

            In summary, we conclude that the budget director does not have authority to approve or disapprove, on a piece meal basis, specific items in a revised salary schedule which has been adopted by the personnel board for classified employees under civil service.  Any other result would have the effect of making the budget director, rather than the state personnel board, the state's salary setting agency, thereby nullifying so much of the civil service act (chapter 41.06 RCW) as eliminated this aspect of the budget director's previous authority.  The budget director does, however, have the authority to approve or disapprove the overall salary schedule as initially adopted or as from time to time revised by the state personnel board, pursuant to his review and determination of its fiscal impact.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

DEAN A. FLOYD
Assistant Attorney General

ROBERT F. HAUTH
Assistant Attorney General

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/RCW 43.41.020(4), which was thus repealed, made it the duty of the budget director to:

            "Prepare and recommend to the administrative board a system of classification, salaries, and compensations for all subordinate officers and employees of the state offices, departments, and institutions other than educational institutions, including, (a) a basic rate of fixed work value, (b) titles of recognized work requirements by subclasses and grades of employment, (c) standards of educational or experience qualifications for each class or subgrade of employment, (d) classified minimum requirements to be met by persons before being eligible for appointment or employment, (e) classified standards to govern promotions and transfers, (f) classified standards of service provisions requiring efficiency of service, (g) classified standards of increasing compensations based on length and quality of service, (h) regular scale of salaries and compensations, and (i) progressive scales of salaries and compensations for efficiency of service, and a tentative schedule for all existing subordinate officers and employees based upon such system, and, from time to time, recommend such changes in the system of classification and the schedule adopted by the board as he shall deem for the best interest of the state;"  (Emphasis supplied.)

2/Chapter 328, Laws of 1959 (chapter 43.88 RCW).  While analyzing the statutes in question we must apply the primary rule of statutory construction which is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature and the people which enacted them.  Public Hosp. Dist. v. Taxpayers, 44 Wn.2d 623, 269 P.2d 594 (1954); Lynch v. Dept. of Labor & Industries, 19 Wn.2d 802, 145 P.2d 265 (1944); AGO 59-60 No. 41.  We also keep at hand the rule that statutes in pari materia, where possible, must be construed together and harmonized so as to give effect to both.  City of Seattle v. State, 54 Wn.2d 139, 338 P.2d 126 (1950); State v. Bell, 59 Wn.2d 338, 3668 P.2d 177 (1962);Alderwood Water Dist. v. Pope & Talbot, 62 Wn.2d 319, 382 P.2d 639 (1963).

3/The purpose of the Budget and Accounting System Act is set forth in RCW 43.88.010 as follows:

            "It is the purpose of this chapter to establish an effective budget and accounting system for all activities of the state government; to prescribe the powers and duties of the governor as these relate to securing such fiscal controls as will promote effective budget administration; and to prescribe the responsibilities of agencies of the executive branch of the state government."

4/For convenience and ease of reading, we here set forth RCW 43.88.160(1), in pertinent part, as follows:

            "This section sets forth the major fiscal duties and responsibilities of officers and agencies of the executive branch.  The regulations issued by the governor pursuant to this chapter shall provide for a comprehensive, orderly basis for fiscal management and control, including efficient accounting and reporting therefor, for the executive branch of the state government and may include, in addition, such requirements as will generally promote more efficient public management in the state.

            ". . .

            "In addition, the budget director, as agent of the governor, shall:

            ". . .

            "(c) Review any pay and classification plans, and changes thereunder, developed by any agency for their fiscal impact:  Provided, That none of the provisions of this subsection shall affect merit systems of personnel management now existing or hereafter established by statute relating to the fixing of qualifications requirements for recruitment, appointment, or promotion of employees of any agency.  He shall advise and confer with agencies including the legislative budget committee and the legislative council regarding the fiscal impact of such plans and may amend or alter said plans, except that the following agencies no amendment or alteration of said plans may be made without the approval of the agency concerned:  Agencies headed by elective officials; University of Washington; Washington State University; Central Washington State College; Eastern Washington State College; and Western Washington State College;

            "(d) Fix the number and classes of positions or authorized man years of employment for each agency and during the fiscal period amend the determinations previously fixed by him, except that he shall not be empowered to fix said number or said classes for the following:  Agencies headed by elective officials; University of Washington; Washington State University; Central Washington State College; Eastern Washington State College; and Western Washington State College;"

            Insofar as the proviso in subsection (c) above may be construed as authorizing the budget director to amend or alter pay and classification plans adopted pursuant to chapter 41.06 RCW, it has been impliedly repealed.  However, comparing the state civil service law with RCW 43.88.160 and the repeal of former RCW 43.41.020(2) convinces us that the proviso in RCW 43.88.160(1)(c) has reference only to fiscal management and manpower planning and not to classification and salary plans adopted or revised by the state personnel board.  In addition, the terms "classes of positions" and "classification plans" are used synonymously with the term "authorized man years of employment" throughout RCW 43.88.160.

5/Of course, there can be no distinction between a revision in a salary schedule consisting of a change of those portions affecting certain classes, or one class only, on the one hand; and a revision which affects all classes.  Therefore, a change in the scheduled salaries of any class or classes of positions is, by virtue of the mandate of the people in the civil serve act (RCW 41.06.150,supra) subject to the approval of the budget director based upon his review and determination of the fiscal impact of the revised schedule.  Our conclusion is simply that the budget director is precluded from approving, on a piece meal basis, specific items in a revised salary schedule, choosing to implement some items and refusing to implement others in the revision.

6/The civil service act has clearly removed from the jurisdiction of central budget agency the judicial function of determining the application of either the salary schedule or the classifications plan to individual employees.  Again, reading both the civil service act and the budget and accounting act together, it is clearly not the intent of the legislature that the budget director should exercise what is essentially the function of the personnel board in fixing or revising salary schedules, or classifying employees, or hearing and settling employee grievances necessitating adjustments in pay or classification.  Thus, the budget director's action in response to reclassification is limited to enforcement at the agency level.  He may, in enforcing his manpower regulations, require an agency to take appropriate action to change or reduce its staffing in order to conform to the requirements prescribed.  Any appropriate review or remedial action, of course, necessitates that the budget director have actual prior notification of changes to be made in salary or classification plans.

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