Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1956 No. 201 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


Funds loaned from motor vehicle fund to general fund are not "used" so as to come within the restriction set forth in the 18th amendment to the Constitution of the State of Washington.                                                                  

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                                                                February 10, 1956 

Honorable Charles R. Maybury
State Treasurer
egislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 201

 Dear Sir:

             In your letter of January 25, 1956, previously acknowledged, you have requested our opinion as to whether or not making loans to the general fund from the motor vehicle fund is in conflict with the 18th Amendment to the Washington State Constitution.

             Our answer to this question is in the negative.


             The relevant portions of Amendment 18 to the Washington State Constitution read as follows:

             "All fees collected by the State of Washington as license fees for motor vehicles and all excise taxes collected by the State of Washington on the sale, distribution or use of motor vehicle fuel and all other state revenue intended to be used for highway purposes, shall be paid into the state treasury and placed in a special fund to be used exclusively for highway purposes.  * * *"  (Emphasis supplied.)

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The attorney general's office has, on at least two occasions, approved the practice of interfund loans as authorized by chapter 15 of the Laws of 1915.  The first of these is dated January 19, 1950, to state treasurer Tom Martin [[Opinion No. 49-51-199]], and the second is dated December 21, 1955 ‑ AGO 55-57 No. 177 ‑ to state treasurer Charles R. Maybury.  Copies of these opinions are enclosed herewith.

             The constitutional amendment in question became effective in 1944.  In reading the quoted portion of said constitutional amendment, you will note that it provides that the moneys received from the stipulated sources should be placed in a special fund to be used for highway purposes.  The term "used" has been held to mean the employment of a thing for the accomplishment of a particular purpose.  William M. Graham Oil and Gas Co. v. Oil Well Supply Co., 128 Okl., 264 Pac. 591.

             We find the authorities have generally adopted such definition.  "Used" then, with regard to funds, implies their expenditure or dissipation.  The practice authorized by the statute heretofore cited involves merely an interfund loan rather than an expenditure of said funds.  We, therefore, find that there is no conflict between the right given in the statute and the mandatory provisions of the Constitution.

             We hope this information may be of service to you.

 Very truly yours,
Attorney General
l2 B. F. RENO, JR.
Assistant Attorney General