Advocacy Report: October 2014 from Mike Neppl, Director of Government Relations and Advocacy
With off-session state budget season underway, I thought it would be helpful to provide an overview of the process. Though somewhat esoteric, the budget process is guided by the state constitution, state statutes and entrenched practices in each house of the legislature.
The budget process officially kicked off last Friday when the Director of the Division of Budget (DOB) sent out the annual “call letter” to agency heads that outlines the Governor’s priorities for the upcoming year. This year’s call letter calls for flat funding, a departure from last year’s mandate of restricting agency budgets to a 2% increase. State agencies, including the State Education Department, must submit their proposed budgets by October 21st.
After the Governor delivers the 2014 State of the State address on January 7th, public attention will focus on the Executive Budget. The state constitution requires the Governor submit the budget by the second Tuesday following the first day of the legislative session, though in years following gubernatorial elections the budget must be submitted by February 1st (this applies for 2015). Once the budget and corresponding appropriation, revenue and budget bills are received by the legislature, each house prepares summaries of proposed budget actions and begins holding joint public hearings. The Governor may submit amendments to the executive budget within thirty days of introduction, though administrations have typically submitted amendments at both the twenty-one and thirty day marks.
By the beginning of March, the involved parties have agreed upon a revenue forecast and each house comes together in conference committees to work out spending and revenue recommendations. These recommendations are enacted as amended appropriation bills. The Governor must either approve the amended portions of the bills or use the line-item veto to strike them. Adopted language originally submitted by the Governor is enacted with no further action required.
Hopefully this sheds a bit of light on the process, but if you would like more information there are additional resources on the websites for the Governor, DOB, SED, the State Comptroller, and the Secretary of State.