By Jerry Stevenson
Published: February 9, 2017

Recently members of our legislature have debated and acted on nine base budget bills. Collectively, these base budget bills appropriate for fiscal year 2018 from all sources $15.1 billion in operating and capital budgets including expendable funds. They appropriate for fiscal year 2018 from General Funds $6.2 billion in operating and capital budgets including expendable funds. After two weeks of deliberation on fiscal year 2018 base budgets, subcommittees have put forth their budget recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee on Thursday and Friday of last week.

I am often asked, “How does the appropriations process work?” or “What is the Executive Appropriations Committee?” Each year the governor prepares a budget recommendation, however, it is the legislature that is responsible for assembling and balancing the budget while appropriating money across all state funded entities. Members of the House and Senate are appointed to fill eight appropriations subcommittees. Their job is to “make recommendations to the Executive Appropriations Committee which consists of legislatives leaders from both parties in the Senate and the House.” After members of the Executive Appropriations Committee make final adjustments to the budget as necessary, finalized appropriations bills are drafted and passed into law.

The collective work of our Legislative Fiscal Analysts Office and subcommittee members has successfully resulted in more than $80 million in budget reductions and offsets. $48 million of budget reduction savings were a result of factors such as: lower than expected Medicaid growth; delayed policy implementation; and reduced debt service costs. The $48 million portion in budget reduction savings was approved by the Executive Appropriations Committee and reserved for use by the entire Legislature later in the General Session. The remaining $34 million will be retained by various subcommittees for reallocation among and within the agencies they oversee.

Beyond deliberating and acting on base budget issues, every subcommittee discussed and voted on performance metrics that will be included in base budget bills. By formalizing these performance metrics we hope to shift our debate further away from “how much money can we spend” to “what are we buying and at what cost.” We believe that this change in the way we think about how money and resources are spent will significantly help our decision making process and encourage economic prosperity for the state. As we have proven in the Social Services subcommittee, this is a process that will take at least three years to perfect, but we have to start somewhere, and we’re pleased to have started here, this week.

 

Senator Jerry Stevenson, Chair Executive Appropriations Committee