and efficiency. The President and most governors were mandated to prepare an executive budget.
With an executive budget, agency budget proposals conform to a standardized format. Executives analyze agency requests, consider their relationship to the requests of other submitters, and make revisions. The executive branch concurrently estimates revenues. Executives compile the revised agency requests and revenue estimates into one unified budget proposal and submit it to the legislature. Standardized formats also allow cross-agency comparisons by the legislature and help executive monitoring of spending.
Executive influence over budget outcomes stems from the ability to set the budget consideration agenda for the legislature. Strong agenda-setting powers result in budget outcomes that closely mirror executive recommendations. At the federal level and in 42 states the executive branch possesses exclusive responsibility for preparing the unified budget proposal. Many executives prepare budget guidelines that shape the dollar value and program content of agency requests. Some budget preparation instructions also require performance indicators (e.g., average cost of clients served) to assess program efficiency and outcome measures (e.g., percentage increase in test scores) to judge program effectiveness. Executives sometimes use quantitative indicators to bolster their budget proposals.
The veto power gives governors an important tool to influence budget outcomes. All governors, except in North Carolina, possess the veto. Governors in 43 states operate with an item veto that permits them to void part of an appropriations bill. (Until 1996, the President lacked the lineitem veto.) With the exception of four states, successful veto overrides require an extraordinary majority. Glen Abney and Thomas Lauth( 1985) have demonstrated that governors use line-item vetoes for partisan and policy reasons rather than to restrain spending.
The scope of a veto impacts its usefulness as a gubernatorial policy-shaping tool. The Illinois governor may amend or rewrite legislation as part of the veto process. The Wisconsin governor may change wording as long as the law remains workable and the changes do not alter the purpose of the law.
Legislatures may structure appropriations bills to negate the governor's item veto power. Money appropriated by program gives the governor the opportunity to cut unwanted endeavors. Money appropriated to agencies in one lump sum makes it impossible for the governor to eliminate part of the appropriation bill. Money appropriated to a limited number of object classifications, such as personnel, equipment, and so forth, creates a situation in which a line-item veto would cripple the agency and thus have the same impact as a veto of the entire appropriations bill.
Governors may impact budget policy if budget cuts take place during the spending year because revenues fall short of projections. The federal government may run a deficit. Consequently, federal spending remains untouched if revenues fail to materialize. Governors may cut budgets during the spending year without legislative permission in 40 states. Gubernatorial action is limited to across-the-board cuts in seven of these states. In the others, governors may selectively reduce spending, although seven limit the percentage that budgets may be decreased without legislative involvement.
The separation of powers system keeps governors from completely eclipsing the legislature. In the twentieth century, many governors gained leverage over budget outcomes at the expense of the legislature. Edward Clynch and Thomas Lauth ( 1991) have argued that during the past 20 years, however, some legislatures with limited involvement have expanded their authority. In Kentucky the legislature assumed the task of writing budget instructions. Clynch and Lauth classified patterns of executive influence, based on information concerning 13 states. Executive-dominant states like California, Illinois, and Ohio have systems that resemble the federal budget process. Governors prepare the unified budget to serve as the legislative budget agenda, deny the legislature access to original agency requests, and possess strong vetoes. Governors in Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, and Minnesota possess the same budget powers as their counterparts in executivedominant states, except for maintaining the confidentiality of agency requests. Consequently, legislators hold information to challenge executive assumptions. Executives in Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Utah exert more limited influence over budget outcomes since legislative leaders or key committees develop the unified budget that serves as the legislature's budget agenda.
Even though executive budget proposals exist, these proposals play marginal roles during the legislative process. In Texas and Mississippi both the governor and legislative leaders formally submit a budget proposal. In Florida and Utah governors submit budget proposals, but arms of the legislature receive agency requests and informally assemble a second document for legislative review. In South Carolina the structure limits the governor's impact. The Budget Control Board, which is composed of the governor, two other statewide elected officials, and two legislative leaders, assembles the budget proposal for legislative consideration.
EDWARD J. CLYNCH
Abney, Glen, and Thomas P. Lauth, 1985. "The Line-Item Veto in the States: An Instrument for Fiscal Restraint or an Instrument of Partisanship". Public Administration Review 45 (May-June): 372-377.
----- 1989. "The Executive Budget in the States: Normative Idea and Empirical Observation". Policy Studies Journal 17 (Summer): 829-840.