Senate Bill No. 485
(By Senators Wells, Kessler (Mr. President), D. Facemire, Edgell, Fanning, Foster, Helmick, Jenkins, Klempa, Snyder, Yost, Unger, Williams and Beach)
[Introduced February 2, 2012; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §4-2-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to creation of a Fiscal and Policy Division under the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §4-2-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2. LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR; POWERS; FUNCTIONS; DUTIES; COMPENSATION.
§4-2-5. Powers of Legislative Auditor; Fiscal and Policy Division.
(a) In order for the Legislature to perform its duties as a coequal branch of government, the Legislature finds that it needs to place more emphasis on obtaining accurate information on the fiscal and policy implications of proposed legislation it considers. The Legislature recognizes that unbiased and objective information and data is difficult to obtain and ultimately, must rely on executive branch agencies and affected interest groups to help guide its decision-making process.
(b) The Legislative Auditor shall have the power and authority to examine the revenues, expenditures and performance of every spending unit or other agency of the state government and for these purposes shall have the authority may, by such means as are necessary, to require any person holding office in the state government or employed by the state, to allow him the Legislative Auditor or his or her employees to inspect the properties, equipment, facilities and records, of the various agencies, departments, subdivisions or institutions of the state government for which appropriations are to be made, or have been made or may be made, and any other agency or public entity created by the Legislature, either before or after estimates therefor are submitted, and before, during and after the sessions of the Legislature. Refusal of any person to allow such inspection shall be reported by the Legislative Auditor to the committee.
(c) (1) The Legislative Auditor shall establish a Legislative Fiscal and Policy Division. The Fiscal and Policy Division is answerable only to the Legislative Auditor, the Joint Committee on Government and Finance and the Legislature.
(2) The Legislative Auditor, to the extent the Legislature and the Joint Committee on Government and Finance make funds available:
(A) Shall appoint a director of the division; and
(B) May employ or contract with other persons considered necessary to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the division under this section.
(d) The Fiscal and Policy Division shall assist the Legislative Auditor in fulfilling the duties described in subsection (b) of this section and may be required to:
(1) Analyze the annual budget prepared by the executive branch and make recommendations to the Legislature and committees with respect to the budget. The budget requests or statements of various budget units submitted to the Governor and any budget statement prepared by the Budget Office of the Department of Revenue shall be submitted for informational purposes each year to the Fiscal and Policy Division on the same day that such statements are submitted to the Governor as prepared by the Budget Office;
(2) Make continuous short and long range studies of projected revenues and expenditures and to annually publish an official economic outlook for the state;
(3) Evaluate legislative proposals for fiscal effect and provide fiscal notes;
(4) Report to the Legislature annually with respect to its activities and at other times as the Joint Committee on Government and Finance considers appropriate;
(5) Prepare a fiscal note on all bills which, if requested by any legislator, is expected to have a reasonable impact on the revenues or expenditures of the state budget. The fiscal note shall be comprehensive and may include a reliable estimate of the direct and indirect fiscal, policy, jobs, economic, environmental, local and municipal impacts of the bill, including both its costs and savings. All assumptions used to measure the direct and indirect effects shall be disclosed. The fiscal notes shall be updated if the bill is amended or a committee drafts a substitute bill and changes the underlying assumptions, revenues or expenditures. In preparing a fiscal note the division may not make any normative decisions about whether the legislation should or should not be enacted and testimony shall be confined to fiscal and policy impacts, both direct and indirect;
(6) Develop and maintain a comprehensive information system on the receipt of revenues by local governmental subdivisions and political subdivisions from local, state and federal sources, as well as the expenditure of these revenues and to submit a summary of this information annually to the Legislature; and
(7) Make available to the general public revenue, expenditure and public policy information in a manner which allows the taxpayer to have confidence in the operations of state government. The information shall be published on a single website in a user-friendly manner which fosters transparency and accountability of government operations.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require the creation of a Fiscal and Policy Division under the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.