While all bills have to pass the house of origin by next Monday, February 25, bills dealing with special appropriations have three extra days to make it to their crossover deadline.
Last week the Joint Committee on Appropriations adopted a general fund revenue estimate of slightly over $1.7 billion for FY20, an increase of about 3.5% over the current fiscal year.
The state’s 4.5% sales and use tax is the single largest revenue source for the state’s general fund and accounts for almost two-thirds of the general fund. Collections from lottery activities and the contractor’s excise tax are the next two largest sources of general fund revenue, both estimated at slightly over $120 million. There have been several bills introduced over the past several years to stop or curtail video lottery in the state. These bills have failed, largely over questions about how to replace that revenue or how to identify which areas of government spending to cut.
Once revenue targets are set, the Appropriations Committee begins the process of creating the Legislative General Appropriations Act. This is a two-week process where the committee goes agency-by-agency, line-by-line, to create their recommended spending plan for the general operation of State functions. When the final draft of the General Appropriations Bill (called the G-Bill) is complete, the Committee votes to introduce the bill. In odd-numbered years, such as this, the bill is sent to the Senate first. In even-numbered years, the G-Bill is sent to the House first, for consideration and action on the floor.
While special appropriations bills require a two-thirds vote for approval, the G-Bill requires only a simple majority vote i
n both houses of the legislature. The vote requirement is lower than that of a special appropriation to prevent a minority group from disrupting the ordinary business of state government.
After the G-Bill’s approval by both houses, it is sent to the Governor. This is usually the final bill legislators act on before the two-week veto break. The Governor then has five days to sign the bill (or fifteen, if the Legislature is in recess), to veto specific line items, or to let the bill go into effect without a signature.
If the Governor strikes, or “line item vetoes,” any item from the G-Bill, the bill is reconsidered by the Legislature. If two-thirds of all members of each house pass the bill again with the original appropriation amount, it becomes law; otherwise, the line-item veto stands.
Complete budget information can be found on the Legislative Research Council website under the “Budget” tab.