Magazine article State Legislatures

3 Things Fiscal Staff Want You to Know

Magazine article State Legislatures

3 Things Fiscal Staff Want You to Know

Article excerpt

While legislators work on all sorts of issues and policy topics each session, there is only one thing they are required to accomplish: enact a state budget.

But passing a state budget is no easy task--and it would be a lot harder without the efforts of legislative fiscal staff working behind the scenes. Fiscal staff often work closely with legislators to help fit new bills and policy priorities into the state's budget, helping them understand what legislation might cost and determining whether the state's revenues can fund it. Fiscal staff roles and responsibilities vary by state, but regardless of their specific job descriptions, these trusted analysts assist legislators in some of the most important aspects of their work.

Here are three things you should know about fiscal staff.

1

They follow the money.

Fiscal staff ensure that state agencies and entities receive the funds they need to achieve their goals, and that state money is being spent wisely. After the governor proposes a budget, fiscal staff get to work reviewing agency spending plans. They often meet with agency officials and members of the governor's budget office to review proposals. Fiscal staff can help set performance goals, and can ask the tough questions about program funding. Even in the smallest state, the legislature is entrusted with a budget of more than $1 billion to use in bettering the lives of residents. Fiscal staff take the responsibility of analyzing and tracking these budgets very seriously. They perform integral research to provide the best information possible to appropriations committees and other lawmakers, allowing legislators to make informed decisions about how to allocate the state's limited resources.

2

They're good at the "guessing game."

They aren't fortune tellers exactly, but fiscal staff frequently estimate state revenues. Revenue estimators look at historical information and economic indicators to predict how much revenue the state will have to spend in each fiscal year. They must account for any changes lawmakers have made that could affect tax collections. …

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