Policy Analysis | April 2021

Appropriations and Revenue Committee Structures in the South

Nick Bowman and Roger Moore

The appropriation of state funds through the budget and regulation of state revenue collections are two of the most critical tasks of state legislatures. The budget sets the state's goals and priorities for the next fiscal year or biennium, while tax rates ensure that the state has sufficient revenue to meet those goals. Consequently, legislative committees dedicated to appropriations and revenue have an essential role in this process. State legislatures have numerous structures for appropriations and revenue committees. Some chambers have an Appropriations Committee and a Ways and Means Committee, while others have multiple committees dedicated to separate appropriations categories. This report examines the different appropriations and revenue committee structures in the South.

Alabama

Alabama is one of a small number of states to use a dedicated fund for education spending: the Education Trust Fund (ETF). The General Fund addresses all non-education spending. Accordingly, the House of Representatives has two committees that consider fiscal issues: Ways & Means Education, dedicated to ETF appropriations, and Ways & Means General Fund, dedicated to all non-education spending. The Senate also has two fiscal committees: Finance & Taxation Education and Finance & Taxation General Fund.

Arkansas

The General Assembly's Joint Budget Committee considers all appropriation bills and budget proposals and periodically meets during the interim to work on budgetary and other matters. When the Arkansas Legislative Council holds pre-session budget hearings after October 1 (preceding the next regular session of the General Assembly), all the Joint Budget Committee members appointed to serve during the next regular session are authorized to attend.

The Arkansas Legislative Council collects data and information for General Assembly use. The Legislative Council is the supervisory committee for the Bureau of Legislative Research, the state legislative service agency. The Council also coordinates the activities of interim legislative committees and provides legislative oversight of the executive branch of government. The Council consists of 36 regular members: 20 House members and 16 Senators. In addition, there are 24 ex-officio voting members and five ex-officio non-voting members.

The Senate Revenue & Tax Committee reviews the levy, increase, reduction, collection, enforcement, and administration of taxes and other revenue-producing measures. The House Revenue & Taxation Committee has the same jurisdiction.

Florida

The House of Representatives has two committees dedicated to budgetary and fiscal matters: Appropriations and Ways & Means. Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee include: Agriculture & Natural Resources, Health Care, Higher Education, Infrastructure & Tourism, Justice, PreK-12, and State Administration & Technology.

The Senate has two committees to consider fiscal bills, Appropriations and Finance & Tax. Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee include: Agriculture, Environment, & General Government; Criminal & Civil Justice; Education; Health & Human Services; and Transportation, Tourism, & Economic Development.

Additionally, the Joint Legislative Budget Commission (JLBC), established by the state Constitution, reviews and approves budget amendments recommended by the governor or chief justice of the Supreme Court; develops the state's long-range financial outlook; and performs other duties prescribed by the Legislature. The JLBC consists of seven Senate members appointed by the President of the Senate and seven House members appointed by the Speaker of the House.

Georgia

The House of Representatives has three committees that consider budgetary and fiscal matters: Appropriations, Budget & Fiscal Affairs Oversight, and Ways & Means. The Appropriations Committee's primary work is the writing of the state's amended and general fiscal year budgets for state agencies and departments. The committee also hears legislation that has a considerable impact on state revenue or expenditures. The Budget & Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee is responsible for holding hearings to monitor spending programs within the state's budget. The Ways & Means Committee considers new tax legislation.

The Senate has two committees dedicated to fiscal issues: Appropriations and Finance. The Appropriations Committee considers legislation involving the expenditure of state and federal funds. The committee is responsible for annually developing the state's budget with appropriations to state agencies, departments, and organizations.  The Finance Committee has general jurisdiction over the state's taxing authority and revenue collections. It also deals with the financial services industry, including the securities and housing industries.

Additionally, the House Budget and Research Office (HBRO) writes the budget bills for odd-numbered years. The Senate Budget and Evaluation Office (SBEO) drafts the budget bills for even-numbered years.

The mission of the HBRO is to provide objective and timely financial information and policy analysis to the 180 members of the House of Representatives. The office provides staff support to the Appropriations Committee, 38 other standing committees, and three special committees of the Georgia House of Representatives.

The purpose of the SBEO is to give the Senate the capacity to develop the annual budget and evaluate the state budget programs. The mission of SBEO is to support an informed, policy-driven budget process. The office is committed to producing an accurate and transparent budget document and developing accurate, objective, timely, non-partisan, and thorough budget and policy analysis.

Kentucky

The House Appropriations & Revenue Committee considers matters related to the executive budget and other appropriations of state monies; the levying of state and local taxes; property tax rates and assessments; the state debt; revenue bond projects; claims upon the treasury; accounting of state funds by local officers; audits for state purposes; budget and financial administration; and payment, collection, and refund of taxes. Subcommittees of the Appropriations & Revenue Committee include: Economic Development, Public Programs, Tourism, & Energy; General Government; Health & Family Services; Justice, Public Safety, & Judiciary; Personnel, Public Retirement, & Finance; Postsecondary Education; Primary and Secondary Education & Workforce Development; and Transportation.

The Senate's Appropriations & Revenue Committee has the same jurisdiction as its House counterpart. Subcommittees include: Economic Development & Tourism, Natural Resources & Environmental Protection; Education; General Government, Finance, & Public Protection; Human Resources; and Justice & Judiciary.

The Interim Joint Committee, Appropriations & Revenue, has the same jurisdiction as the House and Senate Appropriations & Revenue Committees.

Louisiana

The House Committee on Appropriations considers all bills relating to: appropriation and expenditure of state funds; investment of public monies; cash flow; economy and efficiency of government operations; budgetary requirements and procedures; central purchasing; fiscal controls; comprehensive state capital budget (after initial consideration by the Committee on Ways and Means); professional, personal, and consulting services procurement; and public bid laws and public contracts.

The House Ways and Means Committee considers all matters relating to taxes, bonds, evidences of indebtedness, state revenues collection, assessors, parish tax collectors, and the comprehensive state capital budget (before consideration by the House Committee on Appropriations).

The Senate Finance Committee's jurisdiction includes: appropriation of state funds, including the cash portion of the comprehensive state capital budget; budgetary requirements and procedures; central purchasing; economy and efficiency of government operations; expenditure of funds; fiscal controls; general appropriations bill; and revenue sharing.

The Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee examines legislation regarding: bond issuance, payment and retirement; bond portion of the comprehensive state capital budget; bonds and debt; matters regarding the Department of Revenue and Taxation, Tax Commission, and the Board of Tax Appeals; deposit and investment of public monies; economy and efficiency of government operations; and all revenue matters.

Mississippi

The House of Representatives has three committees focused on fiscal issues: Appropriations, Legislative Budget, and Ways & Means. The Senate features two fiscal committees: Appropriations and Legislative Budget. Additionally, the joint Legislative Budget Committee works on budget issues and includes six senators and six representatives, all committee chairs or chamber leaders.

The Legislative Budget Office (LBO) provides the technical staff support necessary to enable the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Legislature to adopt a balanced state budget. The LBO provides the data processing support essential to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the Legislature's proper functioning.

Missouri

The Senate has an Appropriations Committee and Ways & Means Committee. The Appropriations Committee handles all bills and matters regarding general appropriations and disbursement of public money. The Ways & Means Committee is responsible for all bills and issues concerning the revenue and public debt of the state, property assessment, classification of property for tax purposes, and gaming.

North Carolina

The House has numerous standing Appropriations Committees, including: General, Agriculture, Natural, & Economic Resources, Capital, Education, General Government, Health & Human Services, Information Technology, Justice & Public Safety, and Transportation. The House also has a Finance Committee but not a Ways & Means Committee.

Similarly, the Senate has several standing Appropriations Committees, as well as a Finance Committee. There is no Ways & Means Committee. The Appropriations Committees include: Energy and Environment, Natural & Economic Resources, Department of Transportation, Education/Higher Education, General Government & Information Technology, Health & Human Services, Justice & Public Safety, and Base Budget.

Oklahoma

The House of Representatives has an Appropriations & Budget Committee, but no Finance or Ways & Means Committee. There are multiple subcommittees under Appropriations & Budget, including Education; Finance – Revenue & Taxation; General Government; Health; Human Services; Judiciary; Natural Resources and Regulatory Services; Public Safety; Select Agencies; and Transportation.

The Senate has an Appropriations Committee and a Finance Committee. Like the House, the Senate has several Appropriations subcommittees, including Education; General Government & Transportation; Health & Human Services; Natural Resources & Regulatory Services; Public Safety & Judiciary; and Select Services.

South Carolina

The House has a Ways & Means Committee, but not an Appropriations or Finance Committee. The Committee is responsible for all matters related to the budget. 

In the Senate, the Finance Committee addresses budget and appropriations matters. The chamber does not have an Appropriations Committee or Ways and Means Committee.

Tennessee

The House combines Finance and Ways & Means into one committee, known as the Finance, Ways & Means Committee, under which there also is an Appropriations Subcommittee. The committee is responsible for the preparation of general appropriations and any bill with a significant fiscal impact.

The Senate also has a Finance, Ways & Means Committee, which is responsible for all measures relating to taxes and the raising of revenue; issuance, payment or retirement of bonds; evidences of indebtedness; appropriation of state funds; general appropriations bill; deposit of public monies; Congressional relations; and assessment and collection of property taxes.

Texas

The House has an Appropriations Committee and Ways & Means Committee. The Appropriations Committee is responsible for all bills and resolutions appropriating money from the state treasury; containing provisions resulting in the automatic allocation of funds from the state treasury; and diverting funds from the state treasury or preventing funds from being deposited that otherwise would be placed in the state treasury. The Ways & Means Committee is responsible for all bills and resolutions proposing to raise state revenue; proposing to levy state taxes or other fees; modifying, amending, or changing any existing state tax or revenue statute; and regulating the manner of collection of state revenue or taxes.

The Senate has a Finance Committee, but not an Appropriations Committee or Ways & Means Committee. Budgeting and appropriations matters are handled exclusively by the Finance Committee.

Virginia

The House has an Appropriations Committee and Finance Committee, each with multiple subcommittees. Meanwhile, the Senate combines the two committees into one, called the Finance & Appropriations Committee. The Finance & Appropriations Committee handles all matters related to the budget; taxation and expenditure of funds; general and special revenues; bills, resolutions, and petitions for appropriations; and claims.

West Virginia

The Senate Finance Committee considers all appropriations and revenue matters. The House Finance Committee has the same jurisdiction. Additionally, the Joint Committee on Government & Finance - Budget Division provides an annual digest of state revenue sources and analysis of special fund balances.