Legislature Announces Budget Conference Committees & Schedules beginning Monday, March 18

March 15, 2024

Good evening,

Budget Making Update:  The next step in the budget-making process includes a conference committee process in which the Senate Majority Leader and the Assembly Speaker populate a General Conference Committee (sometimes referred to as the ‘Mothership’ in Albany-speak) that meets at least once and ultimately receives the decisions of the various joint budget subcommittees when they have completed their work.  Joint sub-committees are arranged by topic area of the budget (Mental Hygiene, Health, Transportation, Education) etc.  In most years, the budget subcommittees receive a ‘target’ – an amount of money each of the committees can think of as theirs for purposes of addressing outstanding budget priorities.   The ‘target’ money is based on ‘additional’ revenue the Assembly and Senate have decreed is available (the revenue consensus process we described a few weeks ago) beyond what the Governor based her executive budget proposal spending on.

The members of the sub-committees try to agree on a priority list for the money they are told to think of as theirs to ‘buy back’ cuts they don’t want to be enacted, or in instances where they believe an existing proposal needs additional resources. Ordinarily committees like Mental Hygiene, Substance Use Disorder, etc. do not get a lot of target money so big ticket items like the COLA wind up being ‘kicked up’  to the General Budget Committee where the big target money lives.

Sometimes the committee convening process is vigorous with spirited public debate between lawmakers as they work to agree on a list of priorities, while other times much of the conversations between lawmakers (as described above) are not transparent.  Let the games begin!

The document attached is important in that it indicates who has been appointed to the General Conference Committee (Mothership) and to each of the joint legislative budget sub-committees.