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OVERVIEW OF THE OKLAHOMA
APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS


 Agencies Submit Budget Requests to OSF

Note: For an explanation of the color-coded statements in the chart, just click on the the appropriate statement


PHASES OF THE APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS
The State budget can be divided into three stages: executive preparation and submission to the legislature; approval by the legislature and the executive; and budgetary execution by the agencies.


Preparation

  • Although the state fiscal year begins July 1 and ends on June 30, the appropriations process for a particular fiscal year begins in September of the prior year. During that month, Oklahoma's 123 agencies submit budget requests to the Office of State Finance (OSF) and the Legislature.
  • Through these requests agencies suggest their appropriations levels, outline their plans for spending all types of funds, and submit data on performance measurements.
  • On the first day of legislative session, the first Monday of February, the Governor proposes executive budget recommendations to the Legislature for approval. The recommendations serve as the Governor's fiscal and policy priorities for the year.
  • The Equalization Board meets between 35-45 days prior to each session for preliminary certification of funds. The board is charged with certifying amounts of all revenues available for legislative appropriation in a given year. It meets again in February to update revenue estimates and finalize the Legislature's appropriation authority.
    • The Equalization Board consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Treasurer, State Auditor and Inspector, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and President of the Agriculture Board. The Office of State Finance staffs the board with support provided by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Approval

  • Each session the appropriations committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives review the agencies' requests and Governor's recommendations. The appropriations committees of each house work in subcommittees separated by issue areas (such as Education and Public Safety).
  • In mid-session the Legislature approves a General Appropriations (GA) Bill to provide base budgets of all agencies.
  • Legislative decision-making on incremental changes to budgets, however, does not begin in earnest until April, several months after the session convenes. At this point the Legislature refines its priorities to reflect the limited monies available.

    GCCA
    Final spending decisions by the Legislature are made by the General Conference Committee on Appropriations, or GCCA. GCCA is structured much like the standing appropriations committees of each house, with subcommittees responsible for a group of agencies that perform similar functions.

    A key distinction of the GCCA is that its membership consists of House and Senate members. The two houses negotiate spending priorities and produce a unified budget together.

    The first step of the GCCA consists of the House and Senate leadership agreeing on how much of the total budget is allocated to the GCCA subcommittees. This agreement is known as subcommittee allocations.

    Once these allocation amounts are set, the subcommittees negotiate on the funding needs identified by the agencies within each subcommittee.

    Once GCCA subcommittees agree on a particular agency budget, the appropriations staffs draft appropriations reconciliation bills. An appropriations bill normally articulate agency spending limits, total personnel hiring limits, and the maximum salaries of directors.

    The bills are then approved by a majority of both houses, the appropriations bill is sent to the Governor.

    Governor's Action
    During a legislative session, the Governor is given five working days to enact or veto all or part of the bill (Oklahoma's Governor has authority to line-item veto part of appropriations bills). After session adjourns, the Governor has 15 working days to sign or veto a bill; no action by the Governor constitutes a "pocket veto" of the legislation.

    The Oklahoma Constitution mandates that each fiscal year's budget be balanced. As a safeguard against revenue shortfalls, the Oklahoma Constitution states that appropriations cannot exceed 95% of projected revenues (the remaining 5% is held in reserve during the fiscal year, and made available for appropriation as cash at the beginning of the next fiscal year).

Execution

  • Once a budget is enacted into law, each agency submits a Budget Work Program (BWP) for the coming fiscal year to OSF, which can reject a BWP if it exceeds spending caps or otherwise does not reflect the intent of legislation.
  • Once an agency BWP is approved, any changes to categories or amounts of expenditures must be approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on Budget and Program Oversight.
  • The Contingency Review Board (CRB), composed of the Governor, Senate President Pro Tempore, and the Speaker of the House, is authorized to make limited changes to agency budgets when the Legislature is not in session, a period known as the interim.
  • At any time during the fiscal year, the Legislature can request that agency expenditures be reviewed and audited to ensure compliance with statutory intent.

 

Explanation of Links in Oklahoma Appropriations Process Overview Chart

"Agencies Submit Budget Requests to OSF"
Among its other statutory duties, the Office of State Finance (OSF) is the executive agency responsible for preparing the Governor's budget document. OSF also reviews and recommends the annual budgets for each state agency. The submission of the budget request to OSF marks the beginning of the appropriations process. OSF requires that all state agencies submit their budget needs for the next fiscal year in September.
"OSF Review of Agencies' Budget Request"
The budget staff of the Office of State Finance (OSF) reviews the budgets and requests of all the state agencies. With the direction of the Governor's Office, OSF prioritizes funding and policy issues to develop a comprehensive executive budget. This process begins with the submission of the agency budget requests in September and culminates with the publication of the executive budget prior to the beginning of Legislative Session, the first Monday of February.
"Governor submits the Executive Budget to the Legislature"
Each year, on the first day of Legislative Session, the first Monday of February, the Governor submits his or her budget to the Legislature. The executive budget outlines the Governor's fiscal and policy priorities for government operation for the next fiscal year. According to the State Constitution, the proposed budget must be balanced. A balanced budget occurs when total revenues equal total expenditures for a fiscal year.
"Legislative Review of Agency Budgets and Requests"
During Legislative Session the Committees on Appropriations of each House operates through smaller subcommittees that take a more comprehensive view of government operations by issue area (such as the Education Subcommittee and the Natural Resources and Regulatory Services Subcommittee). These subcommittees meet separately to consider the budget requests of the various state agencies as well as consider new government program proposals.

The Legislature is also empowered with the role of government oversight. The Legislature often commissions special studies and convenes hearings during the interim, when the Legislature is not formally in Session (the period between June and January), to review the implementation of state law and the orderly operations of government.
"G.A. Bill"
The General Appropriations (G.A.) Bill contains the base appropriations of each state agency. Typically, this legislation is approved in March. Passage of the bill assures that government operations will begin on July 1, the first day of the fiscal year.
"GCCA"
The General Conference Committee on Appropriations (GCCA) is a continuing conference committee which makes final spending decisions. GCCA is structured much like the standing appropriations committees of each house, with subcommittees responsible for certain issue areas of government operation (such as Public Safety & Judiciary and Health & Human Services). A key distinction of the GCCA is that its membership consists of both House and Senate members. The two houses negotiate spending priorities together and produce a unified budget. Final budget decisions are typically made in May, before the conclusion of Legislative Session.
"Agency Submits BWP to OSF for approval"
Agencies are required submit a Budget Work Program (BWP) to the Office of State Finance (OSF) by July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year for review. The BWP outlines the agency's intended operating and capital expenditures, sources of all funding, as well as the allocation of personnel for the duration of the fiscal year. If the BWP meets the intent of the Legislature and the guidelines established by law, OSF then approves the implementation of the BWP.

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Link to explanation of Agencies submit Budget Requests to OSF Link to explanation of OSF Review of Agencies' Budget Request Link to explanation of Governor submits the Executive Budget to the Legislature Link to explanation of Legislative Review of Agency Budgets and Requests Link to explanation of G.A. Bill. Link to explanation of GCCA. Link to explanation of Agency Submits BWP to OSF for approval.