Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1960 No. 134 -
Attorney General John J. O'Connell


Legislative appropriations made for the purpose of constructing school buildings used in carrying out day school programs may not be used to construct an educational building on the grounds of a state institution which provides residential care, training and education for children of this state.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                  August 5, 1960

Honorable Garrett Heyns
Director, Department of Institutions
P. O. Box 867
Olympia, Washington                                                                                           Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 134

Dear Sir:

            This is written in reply to your letter previously acknowledged in which you requested an opinion of this office on the following question:

            "May legislative appropriations made for the purpose of construction of school buildings used in carrying out day school programs also be applied to construction of an educational building on the grounds of a state institution which provides residential care, training and education for children of this state?"

            We answer your question in the negative.


            You have advised us that it has been suggested to your department that state appropriations for construction of school plants for the various school districts of the state should be available for the building of an educational building at Rainier School, Buckley, an institution administered by the department of institutions.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            It is, of course, well understood that an appropriation may only be expended in the manner provided for by the legislature.  In 42 Am.Jur. Public Funds, § 43, we find the following pertinent statement:

            "In specific terms, an 'appropriation' may be defined as an authority of the legislature, given at the proper time and in legal form to the proper officers, to apply a distinctly specified sum from a designated fund out of the treasury, in a given year, for a specified object or demand against the state. . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            See also, State ex rel. Pub. Co. v. Lindsley, 3 Wash. 125, 127, 27 Pac. 1019 (1891).

            We presume the appropriation to which you refer is the thirty-four million dollar appropriation to the state board of education for state assistance in financing school plant facilities.  See chapter 8, Laws of 1959, Ex. Sess. (RCW 28.47.570 through 28.47.710).  Under the formula provided therein, and rules and regulations adopted by the state board, state funds are allocated to school districts.  RCW 28.47.630 through 28.47.640.  Section 6, chapter 8, Laws of 1959, Ex. Sess. (RCW 28.47.420), provides, in part, as follows:

            ". . .Provided, That no part of the aforesaid thirty-four million dollars shall be allotted to a school district for the purpose aforesaid until such district has provided funds for school building construction purposes through the issuance of bonds or through the authorization of excess tax levies or both in an amount equivalent to ten percent of its taxable valuation plus such further amount as may be required by the state board of education.  The state board of education shall prescribe and make effective such rules and regulations as are necessary to equate insofar as possible the efforts made by school districts to provide capital funds by the means aforesaid."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            From a careful examination of chapter 8, Laws of 1959, Ex. Sess., it is readily apparent that the legislature intended that the funds appropriated were to be used exclusively to assist school districts which could qualify for such assistance.  There is nothing in this act which authorizes the state board of education to provide funds for the construction of any building to be owned, controlled and supervised by the state department of institutions.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Accordingly, we must conclude that no part of the foregoing appropriation could be diverted or expended for such purpose.

            In passing it should be mentioned that the legislature has always recognized the distinction between public schools operated, controlled and governed by school districts and those state schools operated by and under the authority of the state department of institutions.  For example, in 1959, as in previous sessions, as a part of the appropriation to the department of institutions, provision was made for capitol projects at the Rainier School.  Chapter 13, Laws of 1959, Ex. Sess., page 1739.  In this connection we should also call your attention to chapter 72.99 of the Revised Code of Washington, which deals with the subject of bond issues for state institutions.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.  If you have any further questions concerning this matter, please feel free to contact this office.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General