How does the Budget Process work in California?

The State Budget tells how our taxes and other funds will be spent on public services, such as education and child welfare.  Our budget should reflect California’s values and priorities.

The State Budget is created through a long process involving the Governor, the Department of Finance, the California legislators (both the Assemblymembers and the Senators), the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), and the public, including you!

You, as a California citizen, can influence the budget process in many ways.  Let’s first take a general look at the budget process timeline, and then we’ll look at when is best to participate in the budget process…

July-December: The Department of Finance works with the different California agencies, such as the Department of Education, to get their budget requests.

By January 10th: The Governor puts out a budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which will start in July.  The budget proposal can be found online at… http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/

February: Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) puts out budget analysis and recommendations, saying which parts of the Governor’s proposal seem good and which parts they disagree with.  You can read the LAO’s reports online at… http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications

March & April: The California Assembly and the California Senate have public budget meetings, called hearings, with people from the government agencies, the Department of Finance, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and the public.  The legislators discuss budget alternatives and make changes to the budget proposal.  You can attend these meetings in Sacramento, or watch them online at… http://www.calchannel.com/live-webcast/ 

The recordings are available online at… http://www.calchannel.com/video-on-demand/

Around May 14th: The Governor and the Department of Finance puts out the ‘May Revision’ of the budget, with changes based on new revenue/tax numbers as well as input from legislators and the public.

Before June 15th: The Assembly and the Senate budget committees finalize their budget proposals, and then vote to approve the finalized budget.

June 15th-July 1st: The Governor signs the budget, and it becomes the new State Budget.