RD5 - The Potential for Improving Budget Review in Virginia

Executive Summary:
The statute requiring this study directs JLARC to review how other states provide for legislative budget oversight and suggest ways to enhance legislative oversight in Virginia. The statute also directs JLARC to analyze on a pilot basis a State agency budget submission. The Department of Corrections (DOC) was selected.

This review finds that key constraints tend to limit legislative budget oversight, including a short legislative session, incomplete budget documentation, and a relatively low number of legislative fiscal staff.

Several ways to improve oversight are suggested, such as holding more agency-focused budget hearings, perhaps prior to the legislative session; ensuring legislative access to newly developed budget systems; and improved budget documentation.

The Governor accepted general fund budget reductions proposed by DOC totaling $22.7 million in FY 2009. JLARC staff found that this total does not account for offsetting costs to the State Compensation Board. However, DOC’s FY 2010 savings may reach $28.8 million.