Submitted by Michael Thomas Neppl, NYLA 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 on October 1st when the Director of the Division of Budget (DOB) sent out the annual “call letter” to agency heads that outlines the Governor’s spending priorities for the upcoming year. This year’s call letter directs agencies to submit zero-growth budgets. State agencies, including the State Education Department, must submit their proposed budgets by October 16th.
After the Governor delivers his State of the State address in January 2016, 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. Once the budget and corresponding appropriations, revenue and budget bills are received by the legislature, each house prepares summaries of proposed budget actions and begins holding joint public hearings. NYLA is always invited to present testimony to the legislature on behalf of the library community (see NYLA’s 2015 testimony here). 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 appropriations bills. The Governor must either approve the amended portions of the bills or use his line-item veto power 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. 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.