The Assembly Appropriations Committee reviews all bills with any fiscal impact after passage by a policy committee. The committee hears more bills than any committee in the Legislature. In the 2009-10 and 2011-12 sessions combined, the committee heard about 4,600 bills. For contrast, the Business, Professions and Consumer Protection and Public Safety Committees each referred about 400 bills over the course of these two sessions.
The goal of the committee is sound, responsible, affordable fiscal policy.
For more than 25 years the committee has met every Wednesday morning in Room 4202 during legislative session. Because of the massive workload that crosses all jurisdictional lines, Appropriations operates differently than policy committees. Testimony tends to be more succinct and centers on fiscal implications. The Department of Finance and Legislative Counsel sit at the witness table during hearings to provide the Administration’s official fiscal estimate and to assist in the drafting of the numerous amendments taken in committee.
The Appropriations Committee’s Consent Calendar helps the committee expedite passage of noncontroversial bills with minor fiscal impact that receive no dissenting votes in the preceding policy committee, as agreed upon by the Chair and Vice Chair. Another unique feature of the Appropriations Committee is the Suspense File, to which the committee sends any bill with an annual cost of more than $150,000 (any fund). Suspense File bills are then considered at one hearing after the state budget has been prepared and the committee has a better sense of available revenue. No testimony is presented – author or witness – at the Suspense File hearing.