Supermajority Vote Requirements to Pass the Budget

11/9/2018

In an effort to control spending or limit certain types of appropriations, some states require an extraordinary vote to pass general appropriations bills for state operations.

Although they are not spending limits in the traditional sense, requirements for a supermajority vote—two-thirds, three-fourths or three-fifths of the legislature—can limit spending decisions if agreement cannot be reached. States that impose a supermajority requirement to pass the budget operate along a spectrum, ranging from requiring a supermajority vote for specific types of appropriations to requiring a supermajority to agree on increasing tax and expenditure limits (TELs).

Below is a state-by-state comparison of states that impose the requirement and under what specific circumstances they do so.

Note: This table accompanies the January 2015 LegisBrief, "Supermajority Vote Requirements to Pass the Budget."

State-by-State Comparison of Supermajority Requirements

State:

Supermajority for Budget

Supermajority for Taxes (Imposed or Increased)

Supermajority for Other Circumstances

Alabama

-

-

-

Alaska

-

-

-

Arizona

-

2/3

-

Arkansas

3/4

3/4*

-

California

-

2/3

-

Colorado

-

-*

-

Connecticut

-

-

3/5 to exceed expenditure cap

Delaware

-

3/5

-

District of Columbia

-

-

-

Florida

-

2/3

-

Georgia

-

-

-

Hawaii

-

-

2/3 to exceed expenditure cap

Idaho

-

-

-

Illinois

-

-

3/5 required for budgets passed after June 1

Indiana

-

-

-

Iowa

-

-

-

Kansas

-

-

-

Kentucky

-

3/5*

-

Louisiana

-

2/3

-

Maine

-

-

2/3 for emergency enactment

Maryland

-

-

-

Massachusetts

-

-

2/3 for capital budget

Michigan

-

3/4*

2/3 to appropriate public money or property for local/private purposes

Minnesota

-

-*

-

Mississippi

-

3/5

-

Missouri

-

2/3

-

Montana

-

-

-

Nebraska

2/3*

-

-

Nevada

-

2/3

-

New Hampshire

-

-

-

New Jersey

-

-

-

New Mexico

-

-

-

New York

-

-

-

North Carolina

-

-

-

North Dakota

-

-

2/3 for emergency clauses that require immediate spending

Ohio

-

-

2/3 needed to exceed 3.5% of population plus inflation growth.

Oklahoma

-

3/4

-

Oregon

-

3/5

-

Pennsylvania

-

-

2/3 for nonpreferred appropriations*

Rhode Island

2/3

-

-

South Carolina

-

-

-

South Dakota

-

2/3

-

Tennessee

-

-

-

Texas

-

-

-

Utah

-

-

-

Vermont

-

-

-

Virginia

-

-

-

Washington

-

-*

-

West Virginia

-

-

-

Wisconsin

-

2/3*

-

Wyoming

-

-

-

 

*Arkansas - All taxes except sales and alcohol.

*Colorado - Legislature can raise taxes with a 2/3 supermajority in emergencies only. All surplus revenues from the tax increase have to be refunded to taxpayers within 180 days of the end of the emergency if not spent on the emergency. Tax increases automatically sunset unless approved by the voters at the next election.

*Kentucky - A three-fifths supermajority is required for raising revenue or appropriating funds in odd-numbered years only. In even-numbered legislative session years, a simple majority is required for revenue and appropriations bills. 

*Michigan – Applies to state property taxes only.

*Minnesota – A 2011 proposal to requires a 3/5 majority for tax increases did not pass.

*Nebraska – The requirement applies to “emergency” bill, of which the budget is considered one.

*Pennsylvania – Nonpreferred appropriations are specific expenditures for charitable or educational institutions not under absolutely control of the Commonwealth.

*Washington - Voters approved a ballot measure in November 2015 that would have lowered the state sales tax rate from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent if the legislature declined to pass a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds supermajority to increase taxes. This measure was overturned by the Washington Superiour Court on the grounds that it is unconstitutional for a single ballot initiative to address two unrelated subjects.

*Wisconsin - Applies to sales, income and franchise tax increases.