Fiscal notes play important role - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Fiscal notes play important role in whether or not to vote for a piece of legislation

Posted: Updated:
  • GovernmentGovernmentMore>>

  • City of Bridgeport to participate in Internet pilot program

    City of Bridgeport to participate in Internet pilot program

    Thursday, August 21 2014 1:42 PM EDT2014-08-21 17:42:43 GMT
    House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, applauded bold steps by the city of Bridgeport to become in providing residents with a huge boost in Internet speed. Miley, in a press release, also urged other West Virginia communities to consider a similar approach.
    House Speaker Tim Miley, D-Harrison, applauded bold steps by the city of Bridgeport to become in providing residents with a huge boost in Internet speed. Miley, in a press release, also urged other West Virginia communities to consider a similar approach.
  • WV Sen. Manchin applauds DEA decision to reschedule hyrdocodone, related drugs

    WV Sen. Manchin applauds DEA decision to reschedule hyrdocodone, related drugs

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:56 AM EDT2014-08-21 15:56:04 GMT
    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration moved Aug. 21 to list hydrocodone-combination products as Schedule II drugs under the Controlled Substance Act. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., applauded the DEA after the agency officially announced the final rule to reschedule the drugs, which are found in highly addictive painkillers like Vicodin and Lortab, from a Schedule III to a Schedule II controlled substance.
    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration moved Aug. 21 to list hydrocodone-combination products as Schedule II drugs under the Controlled Substance Act. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., applauded the DEA after the agency officially announced the final rule to reschedule the drugs, which are found in highly addictive painkillers like Vicodin and Lortab, from a Schedule III to a Schedule II controlled substance.
  • National Parks Service bans drones over Appalachian Trail

    National Parks Service bans drones over Appalachian Trail

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:49 AM EDT2014-08-21 15:49:23 GMT
    National Park Service photoNational Park Service photo
    The National Park Service has banned drones from flying over the Appalachian Trail.
    The National Park Service has banned drones from flying over the Appalachian Trail.

In order to decide whether or not to vote for a piece of legislation, West Virginia's legislators often rely on fiscal notes.

Calculated by various state agencies, fiscal notes are intended to give legislators information on the financial impact of a particular bill, how much a new law will cost the state, or how much it might benefit the state.

In a report released today, "Accounting for Impact: The Need for a Stronger Fiscal Note Process in West Virginia," the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy recaps a survey it took of state legislators and their opinions of the fiscal note process. It also provides examples of where fiscal notes have failed to do their job.

"As revenues continue to fall, it is increasingly important that legislator's understand how proposed legislation will affect the budget," explained Sean O'Leary, Fiscal Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "Fiscal notes are the price tags of legislation and intended to inform legislators and the public of the fiscal impact of legislation. The state's current process for producing fiscal notes, however, has led to biased, inaccurate, and inconsistent information that legislators largely distrust, complicating the legislative process."

The report stresses the importance of legislators having accurate and complete fiscal notes as they review proposed pieces of legislation and includes several recommendations for how to improve the state's current process, including the establishment of a Legislative Fiscal Office which would provide an unbiased review of fiscal notes.

Key findings of the report include: Fiscal notes are generally inaccurate, with a small minority coming within 10 percent of the bill's ultimate cost; Fiscal notes are often subject to bias, with the agencies that prepare them having a vested interest in how lawmakers view the cost of a proposal; West Virginia lacks a formal fiscal note process with defined criteria and proper oversight for ensuring their accuracy and uniformity; The way fiscal notes are prepared and presented is inconsistent from bill to bill; Local costs or savings are often ignored by fiscal notes; Many fiscal notes fail to explain how cost estimates were calculated; When multiple agencies submit fiscal notes for one bill, it can lead to fragmented and incomplete analysis; New fiscal notes are not prepared when bills are amended, even when significant changes are made that affect their cost.