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Budget? More like move it!

By February 25, 2021March 4th, 2021Blog


Friends—Fiscal cutoff (Mon, 2/22) came and went. That was the deadline for any bills that require the government to spend money to get voted through Senate Ways & Means and House Appropriations committees. Any bill that those committees thought was too expensive, or wasn’t important enough to spend money on, was killed off.

We wanted to take a look at how our government puts together its budget every year. The state Office of Financial Management (yes, there is one of those, no, they will not help you plan your personal finances, we’ve tried) put together a handy guide to how our state budget gets made. The OFM’s guide is super technical and very useful—especially when it comes to explaining spending. But, of course, this is a very political process—plus, there’s the revenue side of things. So we’ve condensed the politics of budget-making of it into this handy list:

  1. Agencies submit budget requests—each representing one or several spending bills—through the OFM.
  2. The Governor takes this into consideration and reveals what he thinks the budget should look like—based on what he believes, what he’s promised, and how feasible he thinks it is.
  3. The legislature convenes, jockeying competing spending bills through various committees, piling on amendments, trading priorities—and that’s just the first few weeks!
  4. The Senate Ways & Means and House Appropriations committees decide how much each agency can spend and in what manner.
  5. Fiscal cutoff (2/22) ends debate on spending bills—but revenue bills are still alive! (This is why ensuring your legislator prioritizes progressive revenue is so important this session). Now it’s a matter of getting things through Rules to the chambers for a full vote.
  6. The House and Senate wind up with different (but similar) budgets that need to be reconciled. Usually the chairs of the Ways & Means and Appropriations hammer out the details.
  7. The governor signs the budget if he’s comfortable with the difference between what the legislature sends him and what he proposed (if he’s not, he’ll flex that executive muscle and call a special session to keep it going).
  8. After six months of planning, politicking, and pleading with the fates, we have a budget (which will not go into effect until July)!

Keep up with the action and opportunities to get involved with our legislative newsletter The Tally.