CSAC Bulletin Article

Legislative Fiscal Committee Deadlines Collide with Release of the Governor’s May Budget Revision Proposal

May 9, 2024

As the curtains close on policy committee hearings in the first house, our legislative spotlight now shifts dramatically towards the fiscal committees. In the weeks ahead, bills will navigate through a labyrinth of legislative deadlines, each more critical than the last. Amidst this intricate dance of governance, the fate of many bills hinges on a pivotal distinction: their fiscal impact on the state as determined by the Office of Legislative Counsel.

Nonfiscal bills, those without a financial impact on the state, are not required to undergo review in an Assembly or Senate fiscal committee as they progress through the legislative process. They generally adhere to later legislative calendar deadlines than fiscal bills. Bills are considered “fiscal bills” if they contain an appropriation of funds, require a state agency to spend money for any purpose, or result in a substantial loss of revenue to the state. These bills necessitate review in both fiscal and appropriate policy committees. The term “fiscal committees” refers to the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee, as shorthand.

Upon approved by policy committees, nonfiscal bills proceed to the floor of that house [Assembly or Senate] for a vote of the full house. Fiscal bills, however, must first pass out of the fiscal committee of the respective house by a specified deadline before reaching the floor. This year’s deadline for policy committees to review legislation with fiscal impacts introduced in the house of origin was Friday, April 26. Policy committees had until Friday, May 3 (an extra week) to hear nonfiscal bills introduced in that house and report those bills to the floor.

Fiscal committees have only two weeks to hear and report fiscal bills to the floor, ending on Friday, May 17. Any fiscal bill not passed out of a fiscal committee by this deadline is considered “dead” unless it receives a rule waiver allowing for further consideration. Due to cost concerns, particularly during deficit years, many bills are held in fiscal committees by being set aside in the “suspense file” and never taken up for a vote to pass out of the committee. Alternatively, fiscal bills may be significantly amended by a fiscal committee to reduce cost impacts without the consent of the bill’s author.

Amidst this flurry of legislative fiscal considerations, the governor announced that he will release the annual revision to the proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Friday, May 10.

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