Last week, when the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) Co-Chairs announced plans to adopt a budget motion removing more than 130 items proposed by the governor from further budget deliberations, they signaled the difficulty the governor’s budget, and his proposals for K-12 education funding, will face. The WASB is working to preserve as much of a funding increase for public schools as possible. While it is uncertain at this point exactly what K-12 funding items will pass, we do know how the JFC will proceed with its consideration of the budget bill.
As we cover the JFC’s work on the state budget, we’ll be using terms like executive sessions, budget papers and budget motions. What do those terms mean and why are they important?
Executive sessions are meetings of legislative committees where the committee members vote on whether to recommend proposals to the full houses of the legislature. They typically follow public hearings on the items being voted on and, in contrast to public hearings, public testimony is not heard.
During its executive sessions on the budget, the JFC will work from budget papers and motions prepared by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB).
- Budget papers (sometimes referred to as “issue papers” or “LFB papers”) are prepared in advance of the executive sessions. The papers present background information and analyses on the budget items scheduled for a vote and identify options for the JFC’s consideration. They are distributed to legislators and the public generally at least 72 hours prior to each of the executive sessions. You can find them posted here (organized by the agency affected).
- In addition to the issue papers, any JFC member may request that the LFB prepare a motion to amend an agency’s budget. Motions are generally not available until the JFC executive session at which the agency’s budget is scheduled to be discussed and sometimes not until a specific aspect of the agency’s budget addressed by the motion is about to be discussed.
The WASB will provide links to the LFB budget papers affecting K-12 education as soon as they become available and will also try to obtain and post copies of JFC motions (or descriptions of the motions adopted).
Whether the question before the JFC is adoption of a particular option (or options) presented in a budget paper or the adoption of a motion offered by a particular JFC member, a majority vote of the JFC will be required for the option or motion to be adopted.
As yet, no date has been set for JFC consideration of the DPI budget or other K-12 funding-related items.
Watch the Legislative Update Blog for developments as they happen.