CSAC Bulletin Article

5 Things You Should Know About the State Budget

  1. What is so special about June 15?
    Since the passage of Proposition 25 in 2010, the Legislature must pass a balanced state budget by June 15 annually, or risk forfeiting their compensation until the budget is passed. Proposition 25 also lowered the voting threshold to pass the budget from a two-thirds super majority to a simple majority. Although the Senate and Assembly released their Joint Legislative Budget Plan last week, the budget development process is far from over. It is expected that the Legislature will de facto meet the June 15 constitutional deadline by passing the Joint Legislative Budget Plan. In other words, the Joint Legislative Budget Plan will act as a placeholder budget act to comply with the June 15 constitutional deadline and allow the Legislature and the Administration more time to negotiate the final spending plan.
  2. So, what happens after June 15? 
    After June 15, the Legislature and the Administration will subsequently negotiate the final spending plan for the 2024 Budget Act and introduce a new budget bill vehicle (colloquially called “budget bill junior”) to amend the Joint Legislative Budget Plan that the Governor will likely sign by the end of June. As the state’s fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 every year, passing a balanced and responsible budget by June 30 is imperative. After the budget work is completed, both houses of the legislature will break for summer recess beginning Thursday, July 4 and will reconvene on Monday, August 5.
  3. What are the “budget bill(s) junior”? 
    Bills authored by the budget committee of either house that amend the budget act are often referred to as “budget bill junior.” Additional budget amendments after June 15 are expected and are generally the rule rather than the exception. The Department of Finance maintains a list of budget bill junior legislation that amends the annual budget act on their website (listing of budget act amendments).
  4. What are “trailer bills” and where can I find the trailer bill language? 
    Trailer bills accompany the main budget act by enacting any corresponding changes to state law. While the budget bill includes expenditure authority and sparse provisional language regarding the use of funds, the trailer bills include implementation language for specific appropriations. These bills are called “trailer” bills because they are not subject to the June 15 deadline and therefore trail after the main budget act is passed. Dozens of trailer bills are introduced, negotiated, and passed annually. Although budget trailer bills are not confined to a specific timeline for approval, most of these bills are expected to be passed before the end of June. However, it is not unheard of for Legislative negotiations on trailer bills for controversial issues to extend into July and August. CSAC has provided additional insight on the unique trailer bill process over the years on our website.

    The Department of Finance maintains a list of trailer bill language proposals that accompany the Administration’s budget proposals on their website (trailer bill language website). Eventually, language for these proposals will be amended into legislative vehicles authored by the senate and assembly budget committees for passage and enactment. CSAC legislative staff will analyze the contents of trailer bills for their impact to county government and will publish more information and commentary on specific subjects in the coming weeks.
  5. What is the “72-hour rule”?
    Pursuant to Proposition 54 (2016), bills must be in print for three days (72 hours) before a vote can be taken. All bills, even the budget bill and budget trailer bills, must follow this rule. Therefore, the legislature must consider their timeline for introduction and passage of the budget bill to comply with the 72-hour rule ahead of the June 15 deadline (i.e., the final form of the budget bill must be in print at least 72 hours prior to June 15).

How can I find more information about CSAC’s advocacy on the state budget?

CSAC publishes letters to the Legislature and the Administration regarding state budget priorities for counties on our website and publishes a budget action bullet with commentary on the state budget at each major budget development milestone. For questions about specific budget proposals or policy areas, please contact CSAC legislative staff.

To receive a template letter to submit to legislative leadership and budget committees in both houses to express how your county will be impacted by the state budget, please contact Jessica Sankus, CSAC Principal Fiscal and Policy Analyst, at jsankus@counties.org.

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