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Fiscal Impact Statements

 

Preparation of a Fiscal Analysis

Overview

Fiscal impact statements are an important component of voter education on initiative proposals. Voters often do not have the budgetary perspective necessary to make an informed decision about an initiative. Often, they enact a measure and it is left to the legislature to determine where the money will come from, which can mean redirecting funds from other programs.

It is currently the law in 13 states that, if a proposed initiative will have a monetary effect on the state's budget, a fiscal impact statement must be drafted. A legislative fiscal agency generally writes it, and it appears on the petition, in the voter info pamphlet, and/or on the ballot.

 

Who Prepares It

Where It Is Published

Cite

Arizona

Joint Legislative Budget Cmte. (after measure qualifies for ballot)

Voter information pamphlet

A.R.S. §19-123

California

Dept. of Finance, Joint Legislative Budget Cmte., and Attorney General

Petition, voter information pamphlet, and ballot (included in title prepared by Attorney General)

Election Code, §9005
Government Code, §12172

Colorado

Director of Research of the Legislative Council

Voter information pamphlet

C.R.S. §1-40-124.5

Florida

Not yet determined by law.

Not yet determined by law.

Fl Const. Article XI, Section 5

Mississippi

Legislative Chief Budget Officer

Petition, voter information pamphlet, and ballot (included in text)

Miss. Code Ann.
§23-17-1 and 23-17-45 Const. §273

Missouri

State Auditor and Attorney General

Petition, voter information pamphlet, and ballot (included in title)

RSMO. §116.170 and 116.175

Montana

Budget Director

Petition, ballot and voter pamphlet

 Mt. Code Ann. §13-27-312

Nevada

Secretary of State, in consultation with the Fiscal Analysis Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau

Ballot, voter information pamphlet

 N.R.S. §293.250

Ohio

Tax Commissioner

Voter information pamphlet

 Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §3519.04

Oregon

Secretary of State, Treasurer, Director of Dept. of Administrative Services, and Director of Dept. of Revenue

Voter information pamphlet, ballot

 O.R.S. §250.125 and 250.127

Utah

Office of Legislative Research

Voter information pamphlet

 Utah Code Ann. §20A-7-701 and 20A-7-703

Washington

Office of Financial Management, in consultation with the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and any other appropriate state or local agency

Voter information pamphlet, Secretary of State Web site

 R.C.W. §29.79.075

Wyoming

Secretary of State and/or initiative sponsors*

A newspaper of general circulation in state and ballot

 Wyo. Stat. §22-24-105

*If the final estimated fiscal impact by the Secretary of State and the final estimated fiscal impact by the committee of sponsors differ by more than twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00), the Secretary of State's comments under this section and the ballot proposition (published in newspaper and ballot) shall contain an estimated range of fiscal impact reflecting both estimates.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, April 2002.

One may argue that, even if voters have fiscal information, it is meaningless unless the public knows how big the budget is. Simply attaching a dollar amount to a measure may not provide enough information. To make a fiscal statement meaningful, it must be considered in the context of the fiscal resources of the state. Suggestions include printing pie charts or graphs to illustrate the fiscal impact of the proposed measure in the context of state resources, and including a general statement in the Voters' Pamphlet that lists the estimated financial effects of each ballot measure upon the general fund and the combined effect if all were to be approved.

For More Information

For more information on initiative and referendum, please contact Wendy Underhill in NCSL's Denver office.

 

 

 

elections-info@ncsl.org.

 

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