By Todd Haggerty

With two months left in the fiscal year for most states, May 1 marks the perfect opportunity to check in on the status of state budgets. As of today, 31 states have enacted budgets for FY 2015.

As of today, 31 states have enacted budgets for FY 2015.Even though state fiscal conditions have stabilized, lawmakers continue to face numerous challenges.

NCSL’s upcoming “State Budget Update: Spring 2014” report will provide the latest information on state budget conditions. The report finds officials concerned about sluggish revenue growth, rebuilding reserves, tax policy and long-term spending trends—especially for K-12 education and health care.

These challenges are playing out in budget negotiations in state capitols across the country, and have led to special legislative sessions in some states. California and Virginia are currently in special session for budget-related items. In California, the governor called a special session to address a proposal for creating a new budget reserve fund, and in Virginia, the General Assembly has been in special session since March 24, 2014, because of an impasse over the budget.

While no state is in danger of starting a new fiscal year without the budget in place, timely budgets are the foundation for any government’s future decisions. Without a budget, state governments have no legal authority to spend. To avoid late budgets and potential shutdowns, a number of states have adopted measures encouraging timely passage of their budgets. For example, lawmakers in Maryland and West Virginia risk having other legislation pushed aside if the budget is not passed by a deadline. Other states increase the votes required to pass the budget if the original deadline is missed. In Illinois, if lawmakers don’t make the June 1 deadline, the votes necessary for budget passage in each house increases from a simple majority to a three-fifths majority. In California, New York and Guam, legislators’ pay can be suspended when the budget is overdue.

Todd Haggerty is a policy specialist in NCSL's Fiscal Affairs Program.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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