News Article | February 10, 2023
LBB Changes Fiscal Note Procedures
The Texas Association of Counties (TAC) had a meeting with the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) in January to discuss fiscal note procedures for the 88th session.
State statutes and both House and Senate rules require a fiscal note to be prepared and accompany a bill through the legislative process. The note must be prepared prior to the committee hearing the bill. The LBB will prepare the note to explain the fiscal impact of the bill on state government and will often include a section on the bill's fiscal impact to local governments. Subsequent changes to the bill text, such as those in a committee substitute, may require a new fiscal note.
What we learned
LBB staff no longer considers it their responsibility to get information from local governments on fiscal impacts. Instead, the responsibility now falls entirely on local governments to provide that information whether or not the LBB requests it.
However, the LBB indicated they will likely contact TAC to request information on some bills this session, but was unable to say how many bills or how often this was likely to occur.
Instead, they may at their discretion accept any fiscal note information that TAC or any county sends to them on our own initiative. Or, at the agency's discretion, they may not accept the information.
When asked what will happen if the agency does not receive any fiscal note information from counties, receives information from counties after their indefinite deadline, or receives none that meets their call for increased specificity in county fiscal data, the LBB replied that in that case they will rely solely on information from state agencies.
Consequently, there will be times when we will miss the deadline or provide fiscal note information that goes unpublished, including for committee substitutes.
Where does that leave us?
The LBB will leave it up to counties and TAC to determine for themselves which fiscal notes to work on, to determine when the data is due to the LBB and what data to present to the agency. After receiving the input, the LBB will then decide whether or not to accept the input for the fiscal note.
We stated that this change is likely to result in fewer counties providing data and few of those responses making it into the published fiscal note. The LBB acknowledged that this could happen but said they accept no responsibility if such a result should happen.
Meanwhile, it will be up to TAC and each county to determine what bills need county input for the fiscal note, when the input is due to the LBB, what data to share with the LBB, etc.
The session has begun and we cannot afford to let the state publish fiscal notes without input from counties. The information is important to the legislative process – without it, legislators would be making their decisions in the dark without understanding how each bill could impact counties.
Bottom line: LBB's change in fiscal note procedures requires TAC and all 254 counties to alter their own fiscal note procedures. Currently, we will still send fiscal note data requests to counties. However, timelines will be more constrained as we will attempt to get the information to the LBB as soon as possible. Further, we will have to ask for additional information required by the agency to best ensure they will accept fiscal note input from counties.
We will all need to be responsive as this new process is implemented. Thank you for your partnership as we seek to provide legislators the best information possible on the fiscal impact of legislation on county government.
For more information about this article, please contact Tim Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.