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Budget procedures, the way states produce their budgets, vary in America's state and territorial legislatures. Important structural differences include the nature of a state requirement to balance the budget; an annual or biennial budget cycle; the governor’s authority to revise the enacted budget; and whether earmarked or federal funds are subject to the appropriations process. The most important political difference among states is the balance between legislative and executive authority in composing the budget. Governor’s line-item vetoes are one element in legislative and executive balance, but tradition and partisanship are equally decisive.
Whether the executive or legislative branch dominates the budget process, there is generally cooperation between the branches. It is expected that a state will enact a balanced budget before the beginning of its fiscal year. Late budgets and vetoes are most likely when a state is experiencing serious fiscal difficulties. Otherwise, executive and legislative negotiations are intended to resolve budget disagreements and avoid vetoes and late budgets.
States use different types of budgets, including line-item, program-based, performance-based, and modified zero-based. Most state fiscal years end on June 30, although four states follow a different schedule.
Here are the key issues covered in these documents:
- Legislative budget procedures;
- Performance based budgeting;
- Zero base budgeting;
- Funding trends;
- Annual and biennial budgeting;
- Balance budget requirements;
- Late state budgets; and
- Legislative oversight of federal funds.
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