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The Role of Fiscal Notes in the Legislative Process

The Role of Fiscal Notes in the Legislative Process

By Todd Haggerty and Erica Michel | Vol . 21, No. 48 / December 2013

NCSL NewsA fiscal note provides a reliable estimate of the impact a bill or resolution will have on state revenues and expenditures. A bill with a fiscal impact may increase or reduce expenditures; increase or decrease the revenues of an existing tax; change personnel requirements; affect levels of service; impose or shift a tax to a new base; or change the funding of an existing program.

Legislators use fiscal notes to determine the merit of a proposed bill, to revise it to make it less costly or raise more revenues, or to make decisions about the state’s budget or revenues. Others, such as lobbyists or state agencies, often use fiscal notes as “evidence” for or against a bill. Because of this, fiscal notes can be a controversial part of the legislative process that may decide the fate of a bill.

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