Article VIII, Washington State Constitution

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Article VIII of the Washington State Constitution is labeled State, County, and Municipal Indebtedness. It includes sections 1-11, for a total of 11 sections.

Article VIII has been amended 12 times, the first time in 1922 and most recently in 2012.

Section 1

Text of Section 1:

State Debt.

(a) The state may contract debt, the principal of which shall be paid and discharged within thirty years from the time of contracting thereof, in the manner set forth herein. (b) The aggregate debt contracted by the state, as calculated by the treasurer at the time debt is contracted, shall not exceed that amount for which payments of principal and interest in any fiscal year would require the state to expend more than the applicable percentage limit of the arithmetic mean of its general state revenues for the six immediately preceding fiscal years as certified by the treasurer. The term "applicable percentage limit" means eight and one-half percent from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2016; eight and one-quarter percent from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2034; eight percent from July 1, 2034, and thereafter. The term "fiscal year" means that period of time commencing July 1 of any year and ending on June 30 of the following year. (c) The term "general state revenues" when used in this section, shall include all state money received in the treasury from each and every source, including moneys received from ad valorem taxes levied by the state and deposited in the general fund in each fiscal year, but not including: (1) Fees and revenues derived from the ownership or operation of any undertaking, facility, or project; (2) Moneys received as gifts, grants, donations, aid, or assistance or otherwise from the United States or any department, bureau, or corporation thereof, or any person, firm, or corporation, public or private, when the terms and conditions of such gift, grant, donation, aid, or assistance require the application and disbursement of such moneys otherwise than for the general purposes of the state of Washington; (3) Moneys to be paid into and received from retirement system funds, and performance bonds and deposits; (4) Moneys to be paid into and received from trust funds and the several permanent and irreducible funds of the state and the moneys derived therefrom but excluding bond redemption funds; (5) Moneys received from taxes levied for specific purposes and required to be deposited for those purposes into specified funds or accounts other than the general fund; and (6) Proceeds received from the sale of bonds or other evidences of indebtedness. (d) In computing the amount required for payment of principal and interest on outstanding debt under this section, debt shall be construed to mean borrowed money represented by bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness which are secured by the full faith and credit of the state or are required to be repaid, directly or indirectly, from general state revenues and which are incurred by the state, any department, authority, public corporation, or quasi public corporation of the state, any state university or college, or any other public agency created by the state but not by counties, cities, towns, school districts, or other municipal corporations, but shall not include obligations for the payment of current expenses of state government, nor shall it include debt hereafter incurred pursuant to section 3 of this article, obligations guaranteed as provided for in subsection (g) of this section, principal of bond anticipation notes or obligations issued to fund or refund the indebtedness of the Washington state building authority. In addition, for the purpose of computing the amount required for payment of interest on outstanding debt under subsection (b) of this section and this subsection, "interest" shall be reduced by subtracting the amount scheduled to be received by the state as payments from the federal government in each year in respect of bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness subject to this section. (e) The state may pledge the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the state to guarantee the voter approved general obligation debt of school districts in the manner authorized by the legislature. Any such guarantee does not remove the debt obligation of the school district and is not state debt. (f) The state may, without limitation, fund or refund, at or prior to maturity, the whole or any part of any existing debt or of any debt hereafter contracted pursuant to section 1, section 2, or section 3 of this article, including any premium payable with respect thereto and interest thereon, or fund or refund, at or prior to maturity, the whole or any part of any indebtedness incurred or authorized prior to the effective date of this amendment by any entity of the type described in subsection (h) of this section, including any premium payable with respect thereto and any interest thereon. Such funding or refunding shall not be deemed to be contracting debt by the state. (g) Notwithstanding the limitation contained in subsection (b) of this section, the state may pledge its full faith, credit, and taxing power to guarantee the payment of any obligation payable from revenues received from any of the following sources: (1) Fees collected by the state as license fees for motor vehicles; (2) Excise taxes collected by the state on the sale, distribution or use of motor vehicle fuel; and (3) Interest on the permanent common school fund: Provided, That the legislature shall, at all times, provide sufficient revenues from such sources to pay the principal and interest due on all obligations for which said source of revenue is pledged. (h) No money shall be paid from funds in custody of the treasurer with respect to any debt contracted after the effective date of this amendment by the Washington state building authority, the capitol committee, or any similar entity existing or operating for similar purposes pursuant to which such entity undertakes to finance or provide a facility for use or occupancy by the state or any agency, department, or instrumentality thereof. (i) The legislature shall prescribe all matters relating to the contracting, funding or refunding of debt pursuant to this section, including: The purposes for which debt may be contracted; by a favorable vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each house, the amount of debt which may be contracted for any class of such purposes; the kinds of notes, bonds, or other evidences of debt which may be issued by the state; and the manner by which the treasurer shall determine and advise the legislature, any appropriate agency, officer, or instrumentality of the state as to the available debt capacity within the limitation set forth in this section. The legislature may delegate to any state officer, agency, or instrumentality any of its powers relating to the contracting, funding or refunding of debt pursuant to this section except its power to determine the amount and purposes for which debt may be contracted. (j) The full faith, credit, and taxing power of the state of Washington are pledged to the payment of the debt created on behalf of the state pursuant to this section and the legislature shall provide by appropriation for the payment of the interest upon and installments of principal of all such debt as the same falls due, but in any event, any court of record may compel such payment. (k) Notwithstanding the limitations contained in subsection (b) of this section, the state may issue certificates of indebtedness in such sum or sums as may be necessary to meet temporary deficiencies of the treasury, to preserve the best interests of the state in the conduct of the various state institutions, departments, bureaus, and agencies during each fiscal year; such certificates may be issued only to provide for appropriations already made by the legislature and such certificates must be retired and the debt discharged other than by refunding within twelve months after the date of incurrence. (l) Bonds, notes, or other obligations issued and sold by the state of Washington pursuant to and in conformity with this article shall not be invalid for any irregularity or defect in the proceedings of the issuance or sale thereof and shall be incontestable in the hands of a bona fide purchaser or holder thereof.[1]

Amendments

Art. 8 Section 1 STATE DEBT -- (a) The state may contract debt, the principal of which shall be paid and discharged within thirty years from the time of contracting thereof, in the manner set forth herein.
(b) The aggregate debt contracted by the state shall not exceed that amount for which payments of principal and interest in any fiscal year would require the state to expend more than nine percent of the arithmetic mean of its general state revenues for the three immediately preceding fiscal years as certified by the treasurer. The term "fiscal year" means that period of time commencing July 1 of any year and ending on June 30 of the following year.
(c) The term "general state revenues" when used in this section, shall include all state money received in the treasury from each and every source whatsoever except: (1) Fees and revenues derived from the ownership or operation of any undertaking, facility, or project; (2) Moneys received as gifts, grants, donations, aid, or assistance or otherwise from the United States or any department, bureau, or corporation thereof, or any person, firm, or corporation, public or private, when the terms and conditions of such gift, grant, donation, aid, or assistance require the application and disbursement of such moneys otherwise than for the general purposes of the state of Washington; (3) Moneys to be paid into and received from retirement system funds, and performance bonds and deposits; (4) Moneys to be paid into and received from trust funds including but not limited to moneys received from taxes levied for specific purposes and the several permanent and irreducible funds of the state and the moneys derived therefrom but excluding bond redemption funds; (5) Proceeds received from the sale of bonds or other evidences of indebtedness.
(d) In computing the amount required for payment of principal and interest on outstanding debt under this section, debt shall be construed to mean borrowed money represented by bonds, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness which are secured by the full faith and credit of the state or are required to be repaid, directly or indirectly, from general state revenues and which are incurred by the state, any department, authority, public corporation, or quasi public corporation of the state, any state university or college, or any other public agency created by the state but not by counties, cities, towns, school districts, or other municipal corporations, but shall not include obligations for the payment of current expenses of state government, nor shall it include debt hereafter incurred pursuant to section 3 of this article, obligations guaranteed as provided for in subsection (f) of this section, principal of bond anticipation notes or obligations issued to fund or refund the indebtedness of the Washington state building authority.
(e) The state may, without limitation, fund or refund, at or prior to maturity, the whole or any part of any existing debt or of any debt hereafter contracted pursuant to section 1, section 2, or section 3 of this article, including any premium payable with respect thereto and interest thereon, or fund or refund, at or prior to maturity, the whole or any part of any indebtedness incurred or authorized prior to the effective date of this amendment by any entity of the type described in subsection (g) of this section, including any premium payable with respect thereto and any interest thereon. Such funding or refunding shall not be deemed to be contracting debt by the state.
(f) Notwithstanding the limitation contained in subsection (b) of this section, the state may pledge its full faith, credit, and taxing power to guarantee the payment of any obligation payable from revenues received from any of the following sources: (1) Fees collected by the state as license fees for motor vehicles; (2) Excise taxes collected by the state on the sale, distribution or use of motor vehicle fuel; and (3) Interest on the permanent common school fund: Provided, That the legislature shall, at all times, provide sufficient revenues from such sources to pay the principal and interest due on all obligations for which said source of revenue is pledged.
(g) No money shall be paid from funds in custody of the treasurer with respect to any debt contracted after the effective date of this amendment by the Washington state building authority, the capitol committee, or any similar entity existing or operating for similar purposes pursuant to which such entity undertakes to finance or provide a facility for use or occupancy by the state or any agency, department, or instrumentality thereof.
(h) The legislature shall prescribe all matters relating to the contracting, funding or refunding of debt pursuant to this section, including: The purposes for which debt may be contracted; by a favorable vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each house, the amount of debt which may be contracted for any class of such purposes; the kinds of notes, bonds, or other evidences of debt which may be issued by the state; and the manner by which the treasurer shall determine and advise the legislature, any appropriate agency, officer, or instrumentality of the state as to the available debt capacity within the limitation set forth in this section. The legislature may delegate to any state officer, agency, or instrumentality any of its powers relating to the contracting, funding or refunding of debt pursuant to this section except its power to determine the amount and purposes for which debt may be contracted.
(i) The full faith, credit, and taxing power of the state of Washington are pledged to the payment of the debt created on behalf of the state pursuant to this section and the legislature shall provide by appropriation for the payment of the interest upon and installments of principal of all such debt as the same falls due, but in any event, any court of record may compel such payment.
(j) Notwithstanding the limitations contained in subsection (b) of this section, the state may issue certificates of indebtedness in such sum or sums as may be necessary to meet temporary deficiencies of the treasury, to preserve the best interests of the state in the conduct of the various state institutions, departments, bureaus, and agencies during each fiscal year; such certificates may be issued only to provide for appropriations already made by the legislature and such certificates must be retired and the debt discharged other than by refunding within twelve months after the date of incurrence.
(k) Bonds, notes, or other obligations issued and sold by the state of Washington pursuant to and in conformity with this article shall not be invalid for any irregularity or defect in the proceedings of the issuance or sale thereof and shall be incontestable in the hands of a bona fide purchaser or holder thereof.[1]

Original text

Original text - Art. 8 Section 1

LIMITATION OF STATE DEBT -- The state may to meet casual deficits or failure in revenues, or for expenses not provided for, contract debts, but such debts, direct and contingent, singly or in the aggregate, shall not at any time exceed four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000), and the moneys arising from the loans creating such debts shall be applied to the purpose for which they were obtained or to repay the debts so contracted, and to no other purpose whatever.[1]

Section 2

Text of Section 2:

Powers Extended in Certain Cases.

In addition to the above limited power to contract debts the state may contract debts to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, or to defend the state in war, but the money arising from the contracting of such debts shall be applied to the purpose for which it was raised and to no other purpose whatever.[1]

Section 3

Text of Section 3:

Special Indebtedness, How Authorized.

Except the debt specified in sections one and two of this article, no debts shall hereafter be contracted by, or on behalf of this state, unless such debt shall be authorized by law for some single work or object to be distinctly specified therein. No such law shall take effect until it shall, at a general election, or a special election called for that purpose, have been submitted to the people and have received a majority of all the votes cast for and against it at such election.[1]

Amendments

Original text

Original text - Art. 8 Section 3

SPECIAL INDEBTEDNESS HOW AUTHORIZED -- Except the debt specified in sections one and two of this article, no debts shall hereafter be contracted by, or on behalf of this state, unless such debt shall be authorized by law for some single work or object to be distinctly specified therein, which law shall provide ways and means, exclusive of loans, for the payment of the interest on such debt as it falls due, and also to pay and discharge the principal of such debt within twenty years from the time of the contracting thereof. No such law shall take effect until it shall, at a general election, have been submitted to the people and have received a majority of all the votes cast for and against it at such election, and all moneys raised by authority of such law shall be applied only to the specific object therein stated, or to the payment of the debt thereby created, and such law shall be published in at least one newspaper in each county, if one be published therein, throughout the state, for three months next preceding the election at which it is submitted to the people.[1]

Section 4

Text of Section 4:

Moneys Disbursed Only by Appropriations.

No moneys shall ever be paid out of the treasury of this state, or any of its funds, or any of the funds under its management, except in pursuance of an appropriation by law; nor unless such payment be made within one calendar month after the end of the next ensuing fiscal biennium, and every such law making a new appropriation, or continuing or reviving an appropriation, shall distinctly specify the sum appropriated, and the object to which it is to be applied, and it shall not be sufficient for such law to refer to any other law to fix such sum. ref name="wa"/>

Amendments

Original text

Original text - Art. 8 Section 4

MONEYS DISBURSED ONLY BY APPROPRIATIONS -- No moneys shall ever be paid out of the treasury of this state, or any of its funds, or any of the funds under its management, except in pursuance of an appropriation by law; nor unless such payment be made within two years from the first day of May next after the passage of such appropriation act, and every such law making a new appropriation, or continuing or reviving an appropriation, shall distinctly specify the sum appropriated, and the object to which it is to be applied, and it shall not be sufficient for such law to refer to any other law to fix such sum.[1]

Section 5

Text of Section 5:

Credit Not to Be Loaned.

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.[1]

Section 6

Text of Section 6:

Limitations Upon Municipal Indebtedness.

No county, city, town, school district, or other municipal corporation shall for any purpose become indebted in any manner to an amount exceeding one and one-half per centum of the taxable property in such county, city, town, school district, or other municipal corporation, without the assent of three-fifths of the voters therein voting at an election to be held for that purpose, nor in cases requiring such assent shall the total indebtedness at any time exceed five per centum on the value of the taxable property therein, to be ascertained by the last assessment for state and county purposes previous to the incurring of such indebtedness, except that in incorporated cities the assessment shall be taken from the last assessment for city purposes: Provided, That no part of the indebtedness allowed in this section shall be incurred for any purpose other than strictly county, city, town, school district, or other municipal purposes: Provided further, That (a) any city or town, with such assent, may be allowed to become indebted to a larger amount, but not exceeding five per centum additional for supplying such city or town with water, artificial light, and sewers, when the works for supplying such water, light, and sewers shall be owned and controlled by the municipality and (b) any school district with such assent, may be allowed to become indebted to a larger amount but not exceeding five per centum additional for capital outlays.[1]

Amendments

Provisions of Art. 7 Section 2 (Limitation on Levies) also subject to limitations contained in Art. 8 Section 6: Art. 7 Section 2 (b).

Original text

Original text - Art. 8 Section 6

LIMITATIONS UPON MUNICIPAL INDEBTEDNESS -- No county, city, town, school district or other municipal corporation, shall for any purpose become indebted in any manner to an amount exceeding one and one-half percentum of the taxable property in such county, city, town, school district or other municipal corporation, without the assent of three-fifths of the voters therein, voting at an election to be held for that purpose, nor in cases requiring such assent shall the total indebtedness at any time exceed five per centum on the value of the taxable property therein, to be ascertained by the last assessment for state, and county purposes previous to the incurring of such indebtedness; except that in incorporated cities the assessment shall be taken from the last assessment for city purposes; Provided, That no part of the indebtedness allowed in this section, shall be incurred for any purpose other than strictly county, city, town, school district, or other municipal purposes. Provided further; that any city or town, with such assent may be allowed to become indebted to a larger amount but not exceeding five per centum additional for supplying such city or town with water, artificial light, and sewers, when the works for supplying such water, light, and sewers shall be owned and controlled by the municipality.[1]

Section 7

Text of Section 7:

Credit Not to Be Loaned.

No county, city, town or other municipal corporation shall hereafter give any money, or property, or loan its money, or credit to or in aid of any individual, association, company or corporation, except for the necessary support of the poor and infirm, or become directly or indirectly the owner of any stock in or bonds of any association, company or corporation.[1]

Section 8

Text of Section 8:

Port Expenditures -- Industrial Development -- Promotion.

The use of public funds by port districts in such manner as may be prescribed by the legislature for industrial development or trade promotion and promotional hosting shall be deemed a public use for a public purpose, and shall not be deemed a gift within the provisions of section 7 of this Article.[1]

Amendments

Section 9

Text of Section 9:

State Building Authority.

The legislature is empowered notwithstanding any other provision in this Constitution, to provide for a state building authority in corporate and politic form which may contract with agencies or departments of the state government to construct upon land owned by the state or its agencies, or to be acquired by the state building authority, buildings and appurtenant improvements which such state agencies or departments are hereby empowered to lease at reasonable rental rates from the Washington state building authority for terms up to seventy-five years with provisions for eventual vesting of title in the state or its agencies. This section shall not be construed as authority to provide buildings through lease or otherwise to nongovernmental entities. The legislature may authorize the state building authority to borrow funds solely upon its own credit and to issue bonds or other evidences of indebtedness therefore to be repaid from its revenues and to secure the same by pledging its income or mortgaging its leaseholds. The provisions of sections 1 and 3 of this article shall not apply to indebtedness incurred pursuant to this section.[1]

Amendments

Reviser's note: This section which was adopted as Sec. 8, is herein renumbered Sec. 9, to avoid confusion with Sec. 8, supra.

Section 10

Text of Section 10:

Energy, Water, or Stormwater or Sewer Services Conservation Assistance.

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 7 of this Article, any county, city, town, quasi municipal corporation, municipal corporation, or political subdivision of the state which is engaged in the sale or distribution of water, energy, or stormwater or sewer services may, as authorized by the legislature, use public moneys or credit derived from operating revenues from the sale of water, energy, or stormwater or sewer services to assist the owners of structures or equipment in financing the acquisition and installation of materials and equipment for the conservation or more efficient use of water, energy, or stormwater or sewer services in such structures or equipment. Except as provided in section 7 of this Article, an appropriate charge back shall be made for such extension of public moneys or credit and the same shall be a lien against the structure benefited or a security interest in the equipment benefited. Any financing for energy conservation authorized by this article shall only be used for conservation purposes in existing structures and shall not be used for any purpose which results in a conversion from one energy source to another.[1]

Amendments

Art. 8 Section 10 ENERGY AND WATER CONSERVATION ASSISTANCE -- Notwithstanding the provisions of section 7 of this Article, any county, city, town, quasi municipal corporation, municipal corporation, or political subdivision of the state which is engaged in the sale or distribution of water or energy may, as authorized by the legislature, use public moneys or credit derived from operating revenues from the sale of water or energy to assist the owners of structures or equipment in financing the acquisition and installation of materials and equipment for the conservation or more efficient use of water or energy in such structures or equipment. Except as provided in section 7 of this Article, an appropriate charge back shall be made for such extension of public moneys or credit and the same shall be a lien against the structure benefited or a security interest in the equipment benefited. Any financing for energy conservation authorized by this article shall only be used for conservation purposes in existing structures and shall not be used for any purpose which results in a conversion from one energy source to another.[1]
Art. 8 Section 10 RESIDENTIAL ENERGY CONSERVATION -- Notwithstanding the provisions of section 7 of this Article, any county, city, town, quasi municipal corporation, municipal corporation, or political subdivision of the state which is engaged in the sale or distribution of energy may, as authorized by the legislature, use public moneys or credit derived from operating revenues from the sale of energy to assist the owners of structures or equipment in financing the acquisition and installation of materials and equipment for the conservation or more efficient use of energy in such structures or equipment. Except as provided in section 7 of this Article, an appropriate charge back shall be made for such extension of public moneys or credit and the same shall be a lien against the structure benefited or a security interest in the equipment benefited. Any financing authorized by this article shall only be used for conservation purposes in existing structures and shall not be used for any purpose which results in a conversion from one energy source to another.[1]
Art. 8 Section 10 RESIDENTIAL ENERGY CONSERVATION -- Notwithstanding the provisions of section 7 of this Article, until January 1, 1990 any county, city, town, quasi municipal corporation, municipal corporation, or political subdivision of the state which is engaged in the sale or distribution of energy may, as authorized by the legislature, use public moneys or credit derived from operating revenues from the sale of energy to assist the owners of residential structures in financing the acquisition and installation of materials and equipment for the conservation or more efficient use of energy in such structures. Except as provided in section 7 of this Article, an appropriate charge back shall be made for such extension of public moneys or credit and the same shall be a lien against the residential structure benefited. Except as to contracts entered into prior thereto, this amendment to the state Constitution shall be null and void as of January 1, 1990 and shall have no further force or effect after that date.[1]

Section 11

Text of Section 11:

Agricultural Commodity Assessments --Development, Promotion, and Hosting.

The use of agricultural commodity assessments by agricultural commodity commissions in such manner as may be prescribed by the legislature for agricultural development or trade promotion and promotional hosting shall be deemed a public use for a public purpose, and shall not be deemed a gift within the provisions of section 5 of this article.[1]

Amendments

See also

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