Policy Analysis | November 2013

Southern States' Legislative Budget Formats

Sujit CanagaRetna

Question: We are interested in finding out the different budgeting formats Southern states use as seen at the actual bill level. Specifically does your state budget by program or budget by category? An example of budgeting by program would be Administration Program, Management and Finance Program, Licensing Program, Wildlife Program. An example of budgeting by category would be expenditure items broken down by salaries, supplies, travel, professional services and acquisitions.

Responses to SLC Survey to Fiscal Staff in SLC State Legislatures


“Since 1976 Alabama has budgeted by program.”


“Our appropriation bills are almost all styled by category, although, maybe a handful of the appropriation bills contain an appropriation for a specific program. An example of an appropriation bill that contains appropriation for a specific program would be our K-12 education bill that appropriates by the specific type of grants and aid program provided to school districts. One thing to remember is that in Arkansas the appropriation is not funding ‐ the appropriation is an authorization to spend if funds are made available. The appropriation bill contains the amount of appropriation payable from a particular fund or fund account. The agency or its board determines the allocation of funding received to a specific appropriation. In regard to funding, our general revenue funds are allocated in a separate bill to individual fund and fund accounts. Other moneys such as dedicated revenue streams are deposited into a particular fund or fund account according to the legislation creating the fund and or program.”


“The short answer for Florida is both by program and category. Attached is a pdf of the current year General Appropriations Bill as passed, commonly referred to as the Conference Report.”


“We budget by program in the bill. We still track object classes, however, in some of our budget computer systems. The House and the Senate use slightly different formats and alternate years writing the bill, and both can be found on the House Budget and Research website.”


“We budget by program and by fund source, however, the details that make up the gross totals that are actually appropriated include the categories noted in your e-mail. The codes in the state accounting system are also by standard category within each budget unit. You can see the detail from this link ‐ this document is prepared by the executive branch after passage of a budget.

Here is an example of language from the 2012-2014 appropriations bill (2012 HB 265):”

Budget Units
1. OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR 2012-13 2013-14
General Fund (Tobacco) 1,950,600 1,912,500
General Fund 5,219,500 5,313,600
Restricted Funds 208,700 208,800
Federal Funds 646,300 226,500
TOTAL 8,025,100 7,661,400


(1) Tobacco Settlement Funds: Included in the above General Fund (Tobacco) appropriation is $1,950,600 in fiscal year 2012-2013 and $1,912,500 in fiscal year 2013-2014 for the Early Childhood Advisory Council.
General Fund 2,963,100 3,021,900
Restricted Funds 265,800 370,900
TOTAL 3,228,900 3,392,800
3. STATE PLANNING FUND 2012-13 2013-14
General Fund 158,700 158,700
4. HOMELAND SECURITY 2012-13 2013-14
General Fund 202,500 207,500
Restricted Funds 1,338,500 1,268,900
Federal Funds 8,930,800 4,857,600
Road Fund 250,000 250,000
TOTAL 10,721,800 6,584,000


“Louisiana uses programmatic budgeting. Our levels are:

- Department

- Agency

- Program.

We also include performance data in the appropriation bill although it is rarely, if ever, used to make budgeting decisions.”


“For the last several years, the Mississippi Legislature has appropriated funds to the state agencies in a lump sum format. They appropriate a single General Fund figure and if the agency has special funds, those special funds are appropriated in a single figure.

This transition to lump sum appropriations was made when the economy turned downward and agency budgets were being reduced significantly. The Legislature felt that this provided more flexibility to agency managers. Previously, funds were appropriated by line item (or category of expenditure ‐ Salaries, Travel, Contractual Services, Commodities, Capital Outlay ‐ Other than Equipment, Equipment, Vehicles, Wireless Communication and Subsidies). We do continue to receive annual budget requests submissions from the agencies that include detailed data by category of expenditure along with performance measurement data.

Now that the state is renewing its efforts in performance budgeting, I believe that it is likely that we will continue to appropriate in a lump sum manner with performance targets.”


“We primarily use personal services and expense and equipment for program-specific appropriations. Below is an excerpt from this year’s HB 11 ‐ the entire list of appropriations bills for last year are at www.house.mo.gov (Bill Information, then Bill List, and the 19 appropriations bills are at the top after reorganization bills.

There is appropriated out of the State Treasury, to be expended only as provided in Article IV, Section 28 of the Constitution of Missouri, for the purpose of funding each department, division, agency, and program enumerated in each section for the item or items stated, and for no other purpose whatsoever chargeable to the fund designated for the period beginning July 1, 2013 and ending June 30, 2014 as follows:”

Section 11.005. To the Department of Social Services
Personal Service $106,041
Annual salary adjustment in accordance with Section 105.005, RSMo 220
Expense and Equipment 35,716
From General Revenue Fund 141,977
Personal Service 70,104
Annual salary adjustment in accordance with Section 105.005, RSMo 8
Expense and Equipmen 1,197
From Federal Funds 71,309
Personal Service 30,633
Expense and Equipment 13,441
From Child Support Enforcement Collections Fund 44,074
Total (Not to exceed 3.25 F.T.E.) $257,360

Section 11.010. To the Department of Social Services

For the Office of the Director
For the purpose of receiving and expending grants, donations, contracts, and payments from private, federal, and other governmental agencies which may become available between sessions of the General Assembly provided that the General Assembly shall be notified of the source of any new funds and the purpose for which they shall be expended, in writing, prior to the use of said funds
From Federal and Other Funds $9,477,551

Section 11.015. To the Department of Social Services

For the Office of the Director
For the Human Resources Center
Personal Service $273,474
Expense and Equipment 11,762
From General Revenue Fund 285,236
Personal Service 194,616
Expense and Equipment 35,889
From Federal Funds 230,505
Total (Not to exceed 11.52 F.T.E.) $515,741

Section 11.020. To the Department of Social Services

For the Office of the Director
For the Missouri Medicaid Audit and Compliance Unit
Personal Service $1,199,605
Expense and Equipment 503,160
From General Revenue Fund 1,702,765
Personal Service 1,900,633
Expense and Equipment 1,776,094
From Federal and Other Funds 3,676,727
Total (Not to exceed 82.00 F.T.E.) $5,379,492

North Carolina

SB 402 is the most recent Appropriations Act approved by our General Assembly. This bill lists only total General Fund budgets for State agencies and universities. The Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund budget totals have some program detail. Changes to the Governor’s submitted budget are contained in an accompanying Committee Report to SB 402. These changes are listed by programs and in some cases specific line items are mentioned. The Governor’s submitted budget and adopted line item budgets are found here.”


“As to the Louisiana request, I’m going to provide you a link to a document that the Fiscal Division prepares for new members on the Oklahoma appropriations process.  Page 3 of this document describes the Oklahoma budgetary process as a variation of incremental and program performance budgeting.  Here is the entire text:”

Budgeting Method

The Legislature currently uses a variation of incremental and pro-gram performance budgeting. Previous years’ appropriations are increased or decreased in increments from an agreed-on base level appropriation. The base level is a negotiated removal of one-time and capital expenditures, the addition of resources to annualize partial year funding from the prior year, or across-the-board cuts to match estimated revenue in the upcoming fiscal year. Once a base level of appropriation is determined, budgets are adjusted according to state fiscal priorities.

In recent years, the State’s budgeting method has evolved to include agency performance measures and accountability standards. Agency budgets are examined by subcommittees to determine if programs are operating effectively and as intended. A combination of program budget limits, performance outputs, and zero-based accountability techniques are employed when con-ducting budget reviews and developing appropriation bills.

Oklahoma’s budget process is one of few states in which the legislature develops a budget independently from that of the Governor. This approach enables legislators to develop priorities and negotiate outcomes to the needs of the state and to their constituents.

South Carolina

“Our Budget Bill is formatted on what we call budget programs.  Each ‘program’ has some sub-parts that are fairly uniform across programs.  For example, every agency (generally speaking) has at least two program areas ‐ Administration and Employee Benefits.  In the Employee Benefits program there is really just one line ‐ employee benefits.  However, in the Administration program there is typically an ‘Agency Director’ line (really the only individual position we list separate), a ‘Classified Positions’ line (this can be other classified administrative personnel), an ‘Other Operating Expenses’ line (a bunch of things can be represented here), etc.  These sub-parts are somewhat informative, but really do not provide a great level of detail.

Aside from those two standard programs an agency can have a number of more specific budget programs.  For example, the State Dept of Agriculture has a program for ‘Laboratory Services.’  In that program there are many of the same sub-parts as in the Administration program ‐ with the exception of the agency direction of course ‐ Classified Positions, Unclassified Positions, Other Operating Expenses.  They then have a ‘Consumer Services’ program.  Or look at the Forestry Commission ‐ they have 5 total programs ‐ Administration, Forest Protection and Development, State Forest, Education, and Employee Benefits.  Each of these programs has many of the same sub-parts mentioned above.

Below are links to some examples:

The format is somewhat intuitive, but to say you can read our Bill and know exactly what we are spending state resources on is a bit of a stretch.”


“If you are referring to the Appropriation Bill which I assume you are, Tennessee’s process is a total state expenditure line item for each program within a department.”


“Texas budgets by both program and category ‐ there are listings for each within the state’s budget bill, known as the General Appropriations Act (GAA). While the final version of the GAA for the 2014-2015 state fiscal biennium has not yet been released, its various iterations and related documents can be viewed on the website of the Legislative Budget Board, the state agency that serves the fiscal policy and analysis needs of the Texas Legislature. There are also links to state budgets for previous state biennia on that website, under the “Legislative Sessions” heading.”


“In Virginia our budget bill is more program format than category format. For example, we don't show in the appropriation act what is approved for salaries and benefits, rent, telecommunications, travel, supplies, professional services, or the like, although the detailed agency budgets are built on those types of expenses.

Rather, we have a modified program structure, which reflects what state government does. Each Item in the appropriation act is a particular program, with sub-programs and fund sources for each item. We also show the FTE position level, for both general and non-general fund positions, for each agency.

One such program is Administrative and Support Services, with sub-programs including General Management and Direction, Information Technology Services, Architectural and Engineering Services, Human Resources Services, Planning and Evaluation Services, and Program Development and Coordination.

Another important program in higher education is Educational and General Programs, which includes sub-programs called Higher Education Instruction, Public Services, Academic Support, Student Services, Institutional Support, and Operation and Maintenance of Plant. You can see that in some respects this is a mixture of programs and administrative functions.

Other examples of programs, each of which is an item in the appropriation act, include, for example:

  • Regulation of Public Facilities and Services
  • Individual Care Services
  • Vital Records and Health Statistics
  • Health Research, Planning and Coordination
  • State Health Services
  • Community Health Services
  • Medicaid Program Services
  • Financial Assistance for Self-Sufficiency Programs (with sub-programs for TANF, etc.)
  • Supervision of Offenders and Re-Entry Services
  • Operation of Secure Correctional Facilities
  • Criminal Justice Training and Standards
  • Law Enforcement and Highway Safety Services
  • Highway System Acquisition and Construction
  • Highway System Maintenance and Operations
  • Financial Assistance to Localities for Ground Transportation
  • Port Facilities Planning, Maintenance, Acquisition and Construction
  • Water Protection
  • Air Protection
  • Land Protection
  • Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Management
  • Marine Life Management
  • Educational and General Programs
  • Higher Education Student Financial Assistance
  • Higher Education Auxiliary Enterprises
  • State Education Assistance Programs (basic and categorical aid for public schools)
  • Regulation of Professions and Occupations
  • Regulation of Individual Safety
  • Economic Development Services
  • Revenue Administration Services

West Virginia

“West Virginia, for Annual Budget Bill purposes, implements what you are referring to as budgeting by category.”