Legislative Action (January – March)

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Typically by mid-January – or, following a gubernatorial election year, by February 1 – the Governor submits the Executive Budget to the Legislature, along with the related appropriation, revenue, and budget bills. The State’s five-year Financial Plan, Five-Year Capital Program and Financing Plan, and financial information supporting the Executive Budget are also submitted with the Executive Budget. The Executive Budget documents are available here.

The Legislature, primarily through its fiscal committees – Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means – analyzes the Governor’s spending proposals and revenue estimates, holds public hearings on major programs, and seeks further information from the Division of the Budget and other State agencies. Following that review, the Legislature acts on the appropriation bills submitted with the Executive Budget.

Under budget reform legislation passed in 2007, the Legislature is required to use a conference committee process between the two houses to organize its deliberations, set priorities, and reach agreement on a Budget. In addition, the State Finance Law requires that the Executive and Legislature convene a consensus economic and revenue forecasting conference and issue a consensus report on tax, lottery and miscellaneous receipts on or before March 1. If the parties fail to reach consensus, the Comptroller is required to issue a binding revenue forecast by March 5.

Based on their separate and joint deliberations, the two houses reach agreement on spending and revenue recommendations, which are reflected in amended versions of the Governor’s proposed appropriation bills and related legislation, and approved by both houses. These amended bills are available from the Senate and Assembly Document Rooms located in the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building, and on the Internet.

The appropriation bills, except for those items which were added by the Legislature and the appropriations for the Legislature and Judiciary, become law without further action by the Governor. The Governor must approve or disapprove all or parts of the appropriation bills covering the Legislature and Judiciary, and may use the line item veto to disapprove items added by the Legislature while approving the remainder of the bill. As provided in the Constitution, the Legislature may override the Governor’s veto by a vote of two-thirds of the members of each house. The appropriation bills legally authorize the expenditure of funds during the new fiscal year.

Prior to passage of the appropriation bills, the Legislature must issue a summary of the proposed changes to the budget to its members. The Division of the Budget is also required to prepare a report that summarizes the impact of the Legislature’s actions on the State’s multi-year Financial Plan. Once the Governor completes review of the Legislature’s actions, the Division then issues a comprehensive Enacted Budget Report that contains the State’s official Financial Plan projections for the current and successive fiscal years. The Legislature must also issue a report describing appropriation changes and the effect of the Enacted Budget on State agency employment levels.