CALIFORNIA STATE BUDGET PROCESS
EXECUTIVE BRANCH ACTIONS
DEPARTMENTAL LEVEL ACTIONS
For the Governor and the Executive Branch, proposing a state budget is a year round process. Each department prepares a budget for additional staff or other spending proposals. A “Budget Change Proposal” (BCP) is developed. The BCP begins at the section/bureau within the department that is seeking more staff or program changes. Some of these program changes can be ordered from the Directorate of the Department and developed into a BCP by the analyst at section/unit, bureau or branch level.
AGENCY APPROVAL OF BUDGET PROPOSALS
When the BCP is ready, it goes through a review process within the department. Every department has their own review process. Once the Department Director has approved the BCP, it then goes to the agency that oversees the particular Department. The California Organization Chart shows the chain of command.
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE ROLE IN THE BUDGET
After the Agency approves the BCP, it goes to the Department of Finance for approval. Department of Finance (DOF) has a major influence on fiscal and policy matters. DOF proposes money-saving policies whereby departments then do the workup for DOF proposals. Department of Finance also has budget letters that can be informative.
JANUARY 10 GOVERNOR’S BUDGET
On January 10 of each year there is a morning press conference where the Governor presents his or her Budget Proposal.
The Departments also publish more comprehensive information on the Budget called the "November Revise".
Within 10 days, or so, of January 10th, a budget bill is introduced. You can also call the Assembly or Senate Budget Committees to get the Bill numbers.
ASSEMBLY BUDGET COMMITTEE
The legislature has two Budget Committees. On the Assembly side, welfare issues go to the Assembly Budget Committee Sub. #1. Sub #1 web page contains hearing agendas, committee actions, hearing agenda attachments, hearing agenda archives and more.
SENATE BUDGET & FISCAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
On the Senate side the welfare issues go to the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee Sub. #3. Sub #3 web page contains hearing agendas, committee actions, hearing agenda attachments, hearing agenda archives and more.
LEGISLATIVE ANALYST OFFICE (LAO)
After the Budget is received by the State legislature, the next milestone is the LAO publication. This publication analyzes the budget and makes recommendations for consideration at the budget hearing. This comes out on the third Wednesday of February.
SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT LANGUAGE
During budget hearings the subcommittee can consider “supplemental report” language. Supplemental Reports are available to any person who would then be able to ask a member of the budget committee to propose supplemental report language.
Supplemental reports are not subject to being blue-penciled by the Governor. Supplemental reports are great vehicles to effect change. It requires the department to meet with certain stakeholders, as specified in the Supplemental Report, and submit a report to the Legislature which states the department's intent in resolving the issue, subject to the report.
The first review of the budget is done by the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. These hearings should be announced in the daily file.
Sometime in March or April, the Assembly and Senate Budget Subcommittees begin to hold hearings. Often the schedule for the hearings are available in the “Daily File” .
Social services issues are considered by Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 and Senate Subcommittee #3.
The committee activities are set forth on a separate page. The Senate Sub#3 agendas and Assembly Sub #1 agendas are available the day before the hearing.
THE MAY REVISE
On teh second Friday of May, the Governor publishes his May Revise. The May revise reflects the latest numbers on tax revenues and program caseloads. The Legislative Analyst does an analysis after the May Revise is released, at which time, there are rapid budget hearings held.
AFTER MAY REVISE
At the end of May, the subcommittees shut down. They submit their reports to the full committees. The full committees hold hearings on the various subcommittee reports, then each house sends their proposed budgets to the Assembly and Senate floor. Once both houses have passed the budget bills it heads for the Budget Conference Committee.
BUDGET CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
The Budget Conference is generally composed of 10 members. Each house appoints 3 members from the majority party and 2 members from the minority party. Generally, it's the Assembly or the Senate staff who handle the conference committee business. The Conference Committee chairs rotate each year. The Conference Committee agenda should be found on the web page of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee or Assembly Budget Committee.
Once the Conference Committee completes their work, the report goes to each house. The budget bill is accompanied with "trailer bills". Trailer Bills are designed to implement the budget, which often needs changes in the law. Often the Governor uses the trailer bills to get legislation that he or she was not able to get through the regular legislative process. It is a questionable manipulation of the process by the Governor. It is not unusual to find trailer bill language that has nothing to do with the budget.
THE BIG THREE MEETINGS
The Big Three are composed of the Governor, Senate President Pro-Tem, Speaker of the Assembly. Sometimes Republican leaders may be invited if thebudget needs Republican votes for tax increases. Otherwise the budget needs a majoriuty vote, thus, Republican votes are not needed to enact a budget now days. The BIG THREE generally meet in the Governor's Office behind closer doors where major decisions are made affecting the lives of millions of Californians. All of those decisions are put into trailer bills and the budget bill.
The trailer bills, in their final form, never have a committee hearing. The public never has input. Some lobbyists are involved in the formulation of the bills now and then, but never the "public". All of the bills are generally "rubber stamped" by the State Assembly and Senate.