20.10.10 Statutory Requirements - State Level Process
Washington enacts budgets on a two-year cycle, beginning July 1 of each odd-numbered year. The biennial budget enacted by the Legislature can be revised in any legislative session through changes to the original appropriations. These revisions are referred to as supplemental budgets.
State agencies are responsible for developing budget estimates and submitting budget proposals to the Governor. The Office of Financial Management (OFM) coordinates the submittal of agency budget requests and prepares the Governor’s budget recommendation to the Legislature. Through appropriations bills, the Washington State Legislature mandates the amount of money each state agency can spend and, in varying degrees of detail, directs agencies where and how to spend it. Once the budget is enacted by the Legislature and approved by the Governor, agencies implement approved policies and programs within the budgetary limits imposed by legislation.
Budgeting procedures are described in laws enacted by the Legislature, instructions provided by the Governor’s staff at the Office of Financial Management (OFM) and policies at the State Board.
State-wide systems are provided by OFM to enter budget information. The Agency Budget System (ABS) is used to enter budget proposals. After budgets are enacted by the Legislature, the Allotment System (TALS) is used to enter agency monthly budgets.
Allocations to colleges are developed internally by the State Board.
The Budget and Accounting Act (effective July 1, 1987, 43. 88 RCW) identifies the responsibilities and authority for budget procedures including the preparation of budgets submitted to the Legislature, legislative adoption of the budget and implementation of the adopted budget.
The Budget and Accounting Act authorizes the Director of the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to establish budget systems in conformance with generally accepted accounting principles as applied to state government. Additionally, the Act grants authority to develop and issue regulations to properly administer the budget system. The systems are used by all state agencies to properly and systematically account for all budgeted revenues, expenditures, receipts, disbursements, resources, and obligations of the state.
The budget process is broken down into phases beginning with information gathering for budget preparation and concluding with the implementation phase. Summaries of each of the phases are presented below.
To develop a budget proposal for the Legislature, the Governor requests detailed estimates and other information from agency officials. This information is submitted to OFM through the Agency Budget System (ABS). OFM provides agencies with a set of instructions for submitting budget requests.
Agency budget requests are reviewed by OFM for inclusion in the Governor’s budget proposal. The Governor’s budget is a formal estimate of revenue and expenditures for the biennium. As part of the budget, the Governor submits a bill that defines the proposed appropriations set forth in the budget.
Biennial budgets are presented to the Legislature for enactment during odd-year sessions preceding the start of each new biennium. Biennial budgets must be submitted by December 20 preceding the odd-year session.
When subsequent developments require changes to the original biennial budget, the Governor may submit “supplemental” budgets at any session of the Legislature. Supplemental budget requests are submitted 20 days before the start of the session that is to consider that budget.
The Legislature is responsible for the adoption phase. This phase consists of the review, analysis, modification and approval of the budget, and the enactment of the appropriations which provide the authorization for expenditures during the budget period. Adoption by the Legislature of bills containing appropriations and a signature by the Governor constitutes enactment and adoption of the budget and the appropriations.
The implementation phase of the budget process is the responsibility of the Office of Financial Management. For control and reporting purposes, OFM requires state agencies to establish fund accounts, including creating Appropriation and Appropriation Index values for each biennium or year of the biennium, depending on the fund.
Before the beginning of the budget period, all agencies submit a statement of estimated, monthly expenditures and revenue (allotments) to OFM. The State Board must submit allotments for all appropriated funds (e. g. General Fund) plus some local funds (e. g. Fund 149). The Governor’s staff at OFM will review allotments and may request revisions. The aggregate of the allotments must not exceed the total for each appropriation.
Last Modified: 3/16/23, 4:36 PM