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Budget Advocacy Advocacy 101 for community organizations September 13, 2005 Guest: John Clark, Office of State Comptroller CT Health Policy Project

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Presentation on theme: "Budget Advocacy Advocacy 101 for community organizations September 13, 2005 Guest: John Clark, Office of State Comptroller CT Health Policy Project"— Presentation transcript:

1 Budget Advocacy Advocacy 101 for community organizations September 13, 2005 Guest: John Clark, Office of State Comptroller CT Health Policy Project

2 The basics Budget reflects our priorities -- not speeches, not even laws $15.3 billion in General Fund for this year Growing 8.8% this year State fiscal year – July 1 thru June 30 (FY 06 refers to fiscal year) Interest on the debt -- $1.7 billion this year, 11¢ of every state dollar Total debt is $12.7 billion, about $3600 per resident, no. 1 in US in debt/capita

3 The budget Where it goes Medicaid 21% (50% reimbursed by fed.s) Education20% Debt service11% Health & Hospitals 9% Corrections9% Where it comes from Personal income tax 36% Sales tax 22% Federal funds 16% Business taxes 8% Licenses, fees 6% Gambling 4% Cigarettes 1.6% Gas tax 3%

4 Structure of the budget Two parts – spending and revenue Spending has two parts – appropriations and bonding (borrowing) Technically a two year budget, but they make so many changes in the off years, it is really an annual process Budget bill and implementers (the devil in the details) Sections and line items not always rational or very descriptive

5 The players Governor Legislative Leaders – Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, House and Senate Majority Leaders Co-Chairs, Appropriations and Finance Committees Appropriations Subcommittee Co-Chairs Office of Policy & Management (OPM) Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) Agency budget analysts, policymakers, legislative liaisons Office of the State Comptroller

6 The process Essentially year round In fall agencies send current services levels and options to OPM/Gov Gov proposes her budget in Feb Divided up to Finance and Approp.s, then to relevant subcommittees Hearings by agency, committee meetings Subcommittees to comm in Mar/Apr Finance and Approp.s reconcile Negotiate with Gov Pass and budget, she signs – hopefully by the end of the session And take a short breather before it all begins again

7 Where to begin Get your issue on the radar screen early and strong Agency – see if they will include with their budget to OPM Gov and OPM – try to get it into Govs proposal Build political support early – regular lobbying Testify? – hard to get above the noise, dangers of lumping in with other groups Speak to Comm and Subcomm chairs to get it added to their budget Work with OFA, thru friendly leg.s, on fiscal estimates

8 Tips Generally same tips as for other advocacy Prepare -- have your #s handy Clear information – easy to read Show your work, site sources (after clear info) Build political support like any other issue – meetings w/ leg.s, calls, letters Op-Eds and letter to editor very good ways to make your case Work to keep fiscal estimates reasonable, have more back up than you think youll need Be available, vigilant, keep in touch with friends in leg. so you can address issues that arise, your opponents wont call you You are in this for the long haul – even if you get the $$ this year (unlikely in first year), you will have to defend it in the future

9 Traps Spending cap – we cant afford it –They find ways around that for what they want –This is why they get the big money Find me the money somewhere else –The divide-and-conquer trap, give up another program or find savings in your own to pay for it –When we have found them money (both savings and/or new money) they used it for other things anyway We already tried that –They will say this even when they know it isnt true –Give the reasons that either they didnt, or this time will be different –Very few things work perfectly the first time

10 Numbers DO NOT be intimidated The most important pieces of fiscal estimating you already have – reality and common sense Most important part of effective fiscal estimates is making them understandable but solid Most only involves arithmetic Just take your time to look over data, check it with last years numbers, etc. Persistence in getting data from government, FOI is a critical tool Get help, if you need it, develop relationships, but also develop the capacity internally Share with your champions, let them use it as they see fit (do not insist on credit, do not publish automatically, only as a deliberate plan)

11 Spending Cap 28 th amendment to CT Constitution, was the price for passing an income tax Limits state spending increase to avg. increase in CT personal income or inflation Denise Merrill was right -- More of a guide than an absolute They blow past it when they want to, first line excuse in saying no to advocates

12 Rainy Day Fund Hedge against bad economic times Surpluses must go there first theoretically Holds up to 5% of General Fund appropriations Emptied fast to cover declining revenues State may need a higher threshold to really even out cycles and allow better planning – national avg. is 8%

13 The art of the fiscal note Appendix to bills estimating how much the bill would cost the state (and municipalities) if passed Drafted by OFA High fiscal note can kill a bill Often very subjective estimates Often based (sometimes entirely) on agency input Can give input to OFA, generally thru a legislator Generally do not share publicly on your website, but deliver to your champion/messenger Do your homework on estimating, show ALL your work, use credible sources Difficult/impossible to change after the note is out No one ever checks to see if notes are realistic afterwards, impolitic and pointless

14 Federal block grants Run through agencies who decide how it will be divvied up, with legislative approval Public hearings, but not well advertised e.g. MCH grant –from HRSA –$5 million –must be matched with state funding –Services include newborn screening, children with special health care needs, outreach and care coordination for at-risk pregnancies, oral health

15 Bonding State borrowing, supposedly for infrastructure and long term costs Governor proposes, compromise with legislature, bill passes But to be spent (allocated), it must pass the Bond Commission Bond Commission agenda set by OPM – need them to get a project on the agenda To see what gets on the agenda each month, and what has been funded in the past, check the Comptrollers Bond Allocation Database – fascinating

16 Resources OFA Budget Book htm htm Governors budget 2007GovBudget.htm 2007GovBudget.htm Comptrollers Bond Database

17 The Health Advocacy Toolbox For more help and regularly updated information go to

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