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Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGLO 1973 No. 30 -
Attorney General Slade Gorton


Constitutionality of § 3 of House Bill No. 234 (1973) for tuition waiver for employees of state colleges and universities.

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                                                                February 26, 1973

Honorable A. N. "Bud" Shinpoch
State Representative, 11th District
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1973 No. 30

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have requested an opinion of this office on the constitutionality of § 3 of House Bill No. 234, currently pending before the legislature, by the enactment of which the following new section would be added to chapter 28B.15 RCW:

            "In addition to any other exemptions as may be provided by law, the boards of trustees of each of the state colleges and community colleges may exempt from the payment of general tuition fees, operating fees, or services and activities fees, except for individual instruction fees, members of the staffs at any of their respective colleges, pursuant to guidelines adopted by the state colleges' boards of trustees and the state board for community college education."

            In our opinion this proposal, if enacted, would be constitutionally defensible.


            Although you have not identified any particular provision of our state Constitution as bearing upon this question, we would assume that your concern is with the requirement of Article VIII, § 5 that:

            "The credit of the state shall not, in any manner be given or loaned to, or in aid of, any individual, association, company or corporation."

            This section, however, which prohibits gifts or  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] loans of state money as well as credit,1/ is not violated where the thing "given" is disbursed as a form of compensation for services rendered.  Accord,Gruen v. State Tax Commission, 35 Wn.2d 1, 211 P.2d 651 (1949).  Thus where, as here, an exemption from tuition and fees at a state college or university is limited in applicability only to employees of the respective institutions, it can well be reasoned in defense of the constitutionality of a provision such as § 3,supra, that the exemption or waiver constitutes a form of compensation to the employees for services rendered as such.  Accord, theexisting provisions of RCW 28B.15.380 under which essentially the same authority to waive tuition and fees has previously been granted to the regents of the University of Washington and Washington State University.

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

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Deputy Attorney General

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1/See, State v. Guaranty Trust Co., 20 Wn.2d 588, 148 P.2d 323 (1944).