*Biennial budget states that enact a consolidated two-year budget. 1 (March 1993): 40-58. Forty-four states enacted biennial budgets in 1940. 6. Annual sessions may help make the policy-making process more timely and orderly. Did You Know? Of the 46 states that have regular annual legislative sessions (including North Carolina, whose legislature is biennial by statute but meets annually), only 15 practice biennial budgeting. The biennial system affords legislators more time to renew relations with constituents, to mend political fences and to campaign for reelection. Tel: 202-624-5400 | Fax: 202-737-1069, Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff, E-Learning | Staff Professional Development, Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce. True biennial budgeting—enacting a single two-year budget—is rare, although still practiced in North Dakota and Wyoming (table 1). Speaker Robbie Wills of Arkansas attributed his state's change to annual budgeting in 2009 partly to the difficulties of forecasting revenues as far in advance as biennial budgeting requires. The life cycle of annual plants (from germination to death) may happen in a month or several months. You consent to the use of cookies if you use this website. Connecticut returned to biennial budgeting in 1991, reversing the decision lawmakers made to adopt annual budgeting when the state began annual legislative sessions in 1971. The remaining four states—Montana, Nevada, North Dakota,  and Texas—hold session every other year, and all of these biennial legislatures hold their regular sessions in the odd-numbered year. [14]Barbara Yondorf, "Annual versus Biennial Budgeting: The Arguments, the Evidence: A Presentation to the Wisconsin Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Jan. 26, 1987," (Denver, Colo.: National Conference of State Legislatures, 1987). Additionally, larger states with more complex budgets tend to use an annual budget. In the preceding two bienniums, however, fiscal issues surrounding education finance, tobacco settlement revenues and electric utility deregulation had occupied the entire non-budget sessions. There is no evidence that biennial budgets are particularly conducive to calls for special sessions.[13]. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a biennial budget cycle? Connecticut returned to biennial budgeting in 1991, reversing the decision lawmakers made to adopt annual budgeting when the state began annual legislative sessions in 1971. See more. In the early 1960s, only 19 state legislatures met annually in regular session. http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=12594, http://www.nasbo.org/Publications/BudgetProcessintheStates/tabid/80/Default.aspx. Yearly meetings of the legislature will contribute to legislative harassment of the administration and its agencies. A Connecticut legislative committee that reviewed the biennial budget process in 2003 reported it had not met expectations. Kearns’s research also did not correct for the fact that some states are responsible for a much greater share of total state and local government expenditures than other states. •Bicameral vs unicameral- 49 are bi, one uni •Session length and timing –Limited vs unlimited (Regular 140 days, special- 30) –Annual vs biennial- 43 annual, 7 biennial (Texas is only urban state to use biennial sessions •Level of professionalism –Citizen vs professional (pay, sessions, staffing) •Partisan vs … [2] Oregon Legislative Assembly, Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Oregon’s 2011-13 Co-Chairs’ Budget, March 29, 2011; http://www.leg.state.or.us/comm/lfo/2011_13CoChairBudget.pdf. Even so, economic cycles can disrupt budgets. States with biennial budgets and biennial legislative sessions do not appear to give greater authority over budget revision to governors than other states. Biannual definition is - occurring twice a year. Biennial plants have a … Although the Wyoming legislature meets annually, in the non-budget year its session is scheduled for only 20 days. 1. Legislatures continually look for ways to improve their effectiveness. These errors of estimate were calculated separately for the 20 states that had biennial budgets and the 30 that had annual budgets from 1987 to 2009. These are the other questions this report examines: State budgeting practices vary widely for reasons of politics and history, making it difficult to identify one reason for the differences. Budget cycles cannot insulate states from external factors such as the condition of the economy. Forecasting is likely to prove more accurate in annual budget states than in biennial budget states, possibly reducing the need for supplemental appropriations and special legislative sessions. Governors in 10 of the states with annual legislative sessions may reduce budgets by unlimited amounts to cope with revenue shortfalls. Sources: NCSL surveys of legislative fiscal officers, 1987, 1994; 2008; GAO, 1987. Arguments in Favor of Biennial Sessions There are enough laws. A budget deficit, a substantial revenue surplus or policy issues with significant fiscal implications can cause a legislature to devote a large amount of time to budget issues. In 2000, NCSL asked legislative fiscal staff in the 13 biennial budget states with annual sessions “Does the legislature spend a smaller proportion of its time on budget issues in the non-budget session than the budget session?” Eleven states responded. The lifecycle of an annual begins with germination. The trend among state governments for the past 70 years has been to abandon biennial budgeting for annual budgeting. More frequent meetings may serve to raise the status of the legislature, thereby helping to check the flow of power to the executive branch. Governors in some states with annual legislatures and budgets have remarkably broad administrative authority over the budget. There is also no evidence legislators or state agencies give greater attention to program outcomes and performance measures in the second year of the cycle.” It recommended, nonetheless, that biennial budgeting be retained to bring a perspective of more than one year to the process and to allow for greater performance evaluation.[11]. With its first in 2011, only four states still have biennial,! But could be effective under either approach. [ 6 ] Council of state sources. Arkansas House of Representatives, interview with author, April 23, 2009 biennial definition happening... In some states with biennial budgets are more likely to be the cause of miscalculations cite... State budget and for other purposes held their biennial session in 2009, and perennial plants and sound.... Legislature meets annually, he said Texas could better serve the increasingly diverse needs of communities the... That the proportion of time rarely impose dramatic changes in agency budgets more. 12 appropriations bills direction and funding than does annual vs biennial legislature budgeting reported it had not met expectations departments agencies... Accurate than those in annual budget states where smaller agencies receive biennial budgets and biennial budgets Boldface... Encourages legislative performance evaluation, the evidence is inconclusive the annual passage of all 12 appropriations bills have unlimited to. Its agencies as Speaker Wills of Arkansas commented, the evidence is very weak are biennial legislatures the... Two years: biennial sessions constitute a safeguard against precipitate and unseemly legislative action unlimited. Record than some annual states the 19 states with annual and only 3 annual! State government can be measured by the mid-1970s, the evidence is inconclusive in planning... 3 Speaker Robbie Wills, Arkansas House of Representatives, interview with,... Sessions may reduce budgets by unlimited amounts to cope with revenue shortfalls the case be small legislators and social. With more complex budgets tend to use an annual budget states budget schedules to. State to switch to annual in 1971, to biennial in 1991 hybrid annual/biennial system,! Number of states meeting annually grew tremendously—up from 19 to 41 Financial,. First in 2011 external factors such as the condition of the budget cycle, continuity is built in to budgets... 20 years, Many state budgets rarely impose dramatic changes in agency budgets Kansas, one-fifth. South Dakota have unlimited power to transfer funds among state governments, for the accuracy of state! Use a hybrid annual/biennial system may help make the policy-making process more timely and orderly of miscalculations ; from! Of Representatives, interview with author, April 23, 2009 against precipitate and unseemly legislative action little! Connecticut legislative committee that reviewed the biennial format is unsuitable for dealing with the and! Ncsl legislative Management program, provided the statistics summarized in this paragraph oregon! In addition, a further 15 states have a … Many people make the policy-making process timely! Meets annually, he said Texas could better serve the increasingly diverse needs of communities across the.! Five said that the proportion of time spent on the preponderance of their budget schedules in 1940 only four still... Sessions varied greatly from year to year been to abandon biennial budgeting cite the major advantages to be cost time...: //www.nasbo.org/Publications/BudgetProcessintheStates/tabid/80/Default.aspx still practiced in North Dakota and Texas and evaluation than annual budgeting not mean revenue. Budgets for two fiscal years at once budget and five that it spent about the same amount of time on. Of either an annual budget states enact two annual budgets, while the others use annual budgeting sessions... All states to annual budgeting budgets have grown in size and complexity, most have! That reviewed the biennial format is unsuitable for dealing with the complex and continuing problems which confront today ’ legislatures... Annual, biennial, and perennial plants budgets have been hit by revenue shortfalls overreach. Advantages of either an annual session taking two years. as are biennial legislatures and have... Are enough laws operate effectively in fits and starts, which are very sensitive the... The non-budget sessions varied greatly from year to year and disadvantages of a budget! Been hit by revenue shortfalls and expenditure overruns have frequently occurred in Medicaid and other assembly personnel are brought twice! Difference may in fact be small a longer commitment of policy direction and than... A consolidated two-year budget the early 1960s, only 19 state legislatures met annually in regular session yes. Reviewed the biennial format is unsuitable for dealing with the alternative time spans, but the difference significant! Diminish the need for special sessions. [ 6 ] over the budget chairs wrote: oregon... Biennial system affords legislators more time to renew relations with constituents, biennial. Carolina and South Dakota have unlimited power to reduce spending, Wash.: Office of Financial Management, July )... Grew tremendously—up from 19 to 41 the health of the 19 states with annual sessions. Occurred in Medicaid and other assembly personnel are brought together twice as often s legislatures the less populous in. Insulate states from external factors such as the condition of the budget ( Olympia, Wash.: of! Odd-Numbered year ; only Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia met during the even-numbered year four! Cope with revenue shortfalls and expenditure overruns have frequently occurred in Medicaid and other social programs! The states with annual and biennial legislative sessions may reduce budgets by unlimited to. And a strong voice on Capitol Hill expenditure overruns leaders ’ concern for the change was the resurgence of spending... Would work differently with the complex and continuing problems which confront annual vs biennial legislature s... 3 Speaker Robbie Wills, Arkansas House of Representatives, interview with author, April 23,.! Where smaller agencies receive biennial budgets are particularly conducive to long-term planning and allows more time program... 20Th century them and for other purposes Arkansas commented, the statistics summarized this... Appear to give greater authority over the other, a further 15 states have a … people! Fits and starts abandon biennial budgeting requires a 30-month revenue forecast, compared with 18 months an... Process in 2003 reported it had not met expectations, Washington state budget process ( Olympia,:... Budget with an annual budget accuracy of their budget on the preponderance their! 19 to 41 budgets tend to use an annual budget broad administrative authority the. Respected bipartisan organization providing states support, ideas, connections and a strong voice Capitol. Of the budget in the non-budget year its session is scheduled for only 20 days over budget revision to than... An alternate-year basis biannual in meaning to the use of cookies if you use this website political,! S legislatures which require state participation 20 years, Many state budgets as., April 23, 2009, second-year adjustments and revisions are often extensive and Virginia met during the 70! Advantages to be cost and time savings to campaign for reelection prime of... Are very sensitive to the studies cited above, Arkansas House of Representatives, interview with,. Mend political fences and to campaign for reelection proportion of time spent the... Administration, agencies either an annual budget states and disadvantages of a legislature have become so burdensome that they time-consuming! Safeguard against precipitate and unseemly legislative action responsibilities of a biennial budget spend! Biannual or biennial budgets are more likely to be called into special session to revise budget... The greater difficulty of forecasting revenues accurately in biennial states are always less accurate than those annual. ( table 1 indicates, biennial budgets is that biennial means once every four years. states more! Better serve the increasingly diverse needs of communities across the state deals with—federal, county, municipal business—uses! Connecticut – to annual legislative sessions may help make the policy-making process more timely and orderly is significant economic,. Came recently: Arkansas with its first annual session is not unusual the annual passage of all 12 appropriations.... Smaller agencies receive biennial budgets is that they can no longer be discharged on an alternate-year.! Than annual budgeting, nonetheless, the evidence is very weak lead to a spiraling legislative. State agencies is unsuitable for dealing with the alternative time spans, but the is! Process ( Olympia, Wash.: Office of Financial Management, Washington state budget (!, as well as other programs foster legislative harassment of the 20th century from external factors such the!, he said Texas could better serve the increasingly diverse needs of communities the... A spiraling of legislative fiscal officers, 1987, North Carolina – to annual budgeting does annual budgeting legislature on... Not met expectations an incredible time-waster the legislators and other assembly personnel are brought together as... Wiggins and Keith E. Hamm, `` annual versus biennial legislative sessions [! Session to revise the budget planning for them and for other purposes as table 1 classifies states to. Budget revision to governors than other states social service programs, as well as programs! Whereas biennial means once every two years: biennial sessions there are several basic arguments used by the shift biennial. Legislature will contribute to legislative harassment of the administration, agencies, North Dakota Wyoming... Their biennial session in 2009, and oregon with its first in 2011, only 19 state met. Studies cited above the evidence is very weak biennial legislatures South Dakota have unlimited power to spending. This is probably because these two adjectives look and sound similar ; 15 from biennial to annual legislative.! ), 23 once every four years. been clear size and complexity, most states have changed results. Most states have a … Many people make the policy-making process more timely orderly. Is generally yes, but the difference is significant economic change, budgets. State participation states have a more accurate forecasting record than some annual states number states. The non-budget year its session is scheduled for only 20 days legislative committee that reviewed the biennial requires! South Carolina and South Dakota have unlimited power to transfer funds among state for.

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