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Fiscal impact statement

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A fiscal impact statement is an estimate prepared by a state official or government agency that predicts how the approval of a ballot measure would effect state finances. In total, 16 of the 24 initiative states require some kind of fiscal analysis.

Fiscal impact statements can differ from state to state. Mainly, they differ as to who is responsible for preparing them. In some states, partisan officials, like the Secretary of State, are responsible. In others, nonpartisan legislative services offices are tasked with estimating fiscal impact. Lawsuits are often filed if supporters or opponents believe that the fiscal impact statement does not accurately reflect the likely costs of the measure.

States also differ as to where the statement is printed. Three typical locations are the petition, the ballot, and the voter information pamphlet. It is not uncommon for the statement to be printed in multiple places. In total, six states require the statement to be published on the petition form itself--Alaska, California, Maine, Missouri, Montana, and Utah.

See also

External links

Single subject rules by state


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Alaska

Each petition includes a statement of the cost of reviewing and certifying the petition as well as "an estimate of the cost to the state of implementing the proposed law." This summary is prepared by the Alaska Lieutenant Governor.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Alaska Statutes, Sec. 15.45.090 (4)


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Arizona

After certification, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee must prepare a fiscal analysis of the proposed measure. This analysis is presented at public hearings on the measure organized by the Secretary of State and included on an informational pamphlet produced by the state.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 19, Ch. 1, Art. 3, 19-123


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in California

If the measure will have a fiscal impact, a fiscal estimate is drafted jointly by the Department of Finance and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. This estimate is included along with the summary and circulating title.

  • A list of recent measures cleared for circulation can be found here. (Includes fiscal estimates)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: California Election Code, Section 9005


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado

Prior to the election, the Director of Research for the Legislative Council of the General Assembly prepares a fiscal impact statement detailing any effect a measure will have on revenue, expenditures, taxes, and liabilities. For tax measures, Colorado law also directs the Director to include an estimate of the measure's impact on the average taxpayer. The statement is available to the public upon request and an abstract of the findings are included in the state's ballot information booklet.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 1, Article 40, Section 124.5


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Florida

Proposed measures are only analysed after sponsors collect 10% of the required signatures across the state and 10% in each of one-eighth of the state's Congressional districts. After preliminary signatures have been collected and proponents have submitted a ballot title and summary, the Secretary of State must submit the proposal to the Financial Impact Estimating Conference. The Conference, after allowing for public input, must draft a concise statement of the effect of the proposed measure on revenue and expenditures. The Conference must also draft a more detailed financial statement of the measure's predicted effects and the methods used in the analysis.

If a financial impact statement is successfully challenged in court, only the Conference is permitted to revise it. If Conference leadership fails to agree on a statement (or revisions to a statement), a notice will appear on the ballot stating, "The financial impact of this measure, if any, cannot be reasonably determined at this time."

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 100.371, Section 5


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Maine

The Office of Fiscal and Program Review prepares a fiscal impact statement for each ballot measure. The statement must summarize the impact of the measure on state funds (General Fund, Highway Fund, etc...). In addition, it must summarize the amount transferred from state to local governments. Each signature petition sheet must contain this summary.

DocumentIcon.jpg See laws: Maine Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 11, §353 & Title 21-A, Chapter 11, §901-A


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Mississippi

In Mississippi, only ballot measures with a legislative alternative receive a fiscal review. The chief legislative budget officer creates a fiscal impact statement for each measure and its legislative alternative. These statements are included on the ballot and voters pamphlet for purposes of comparison.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Mississippi Constitution, Article XV, Section 273 & Mississippi Code, Title 23, Chapter 17 


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri

Once the State Auditor has received the petition, he or she prepares a fiscal note and a fiscal note summary of less than 50 words. The Attorney General reviews the fiscal note and summary for fairness and legal content then either approves or rejects them. Once approved, the fiscal note summary is included on petitions.

Note: On March 1, 2012, the Missouri Circuit Judge Jon Beetem ruled that the state's fiscal review process for ballot measures violates the Missouri Constitution. The state constitution requires that, "No duty shall be imposed on [the state auditor] by law which is not related to the supervising and auditing of the receipt and expenditure of public funds." Since evaluating proposed measures concerns potential impacts, Beetem ruled that the task falls outside the auditor's supervisory role. In addition, he ordered the statement to be removed from the ballot title in question. A similar ruling in 1996 found that the Joint Committee on Legislative Research could not evaluate proposed initiatives.[1][2]
On July 31, 2012, after multiple appeals, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the state auditor does have the constitutional right to prepare the financial summaries of proposed citizen-initiated measures.
The ruling ended what was a tangled web in the state initiative process that began with a simple legal challenge to a potential 2012 tobacco tax initiative.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Missouri Revised Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 116, Section 116.175


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

During the Attorney General's review, he or she must determine if the bill affects state revenues or expenditures. If so, the budget director must prepare a short fiscal note for inclusion on the petition and ballot.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 312


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Nevada

The Fiscal Analysis Division analyzes the proposed measure to gauge its impact on state and local budgets. If this determination can be made, a fiscal note is drafted explaining this impact. Both the suggested revisions, the fiscal note, and the petition itself are then published on the Secretary of State's website.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 295, Section 015

North Dakota

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in North Dakota

The North Dakota Legislative Council prepares a fiscal analysis of each measure after certification and prior to the election. This information is made available to the public by the Secretary of State. According to a bill passed in 2013, if the fiscal impact of an initiated ballot measure is deemed "significant," the measure must be put on a general election ballot.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 2 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 17 


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Ohio

After the Secretary of State receives the approved proposal, he or she transfers the measure to the Office of Budget and Management (and/or Tax Commissioner if the measure involves a tax). The office (and/or commissioner) then estimates the fiscal impact of the measure. This estimate (or joint estimate) is ultimately posted on the Secretary of State's website 30 days prior to the election.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Ohio Revised Code, Title XXXV, Chapter 3519.04


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon

In Oregon, each measure that affects revenue, expenditure, or indebtedness by more than $100,000 receives an estimate of financial impact. This estimate is included in the voters' pamphlet and on the ballot. If necessary, a longer "statement of financial impact" can also be written explaining the estimate in the voters' pamphlet. The financial estimate committee is responsible for creating these estimates. The committee includes the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the Director of the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, the Director of the Department of Revenue, and a local representative (selected by the other members) with expertise in local government finance.

  • An example of a financial estimate can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 250.125 – 250.131


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Utah & Utah House Bill 422S01 (2014)

Once the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget has received the proposed measure, it must prepare an "unbiased, good faith estimate of the fiscal impact" of the measure. This estimate should also list any funding sources for the measure and the effect of the proposal on public indebtedness. It may also contain a caveat concerning the reliability of the estimate if the effects of the measure are difficult to predict. The estimate is included on the petition, in the voter information pamphlet, and on the ballot. This fiscal impact report must also include the estimated legal impacts of the measure, which includes the costs of possible or likely litigation and settlements.

For referendums, a similar fiscal and legal impacts statement is required.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Utah Code, Title 20A, Chapter 7, Section 202.5, Section 203, Section 209 & Section 702


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Washington

Once a measure has been certified for the ballot, the Office of Financial Management drafts a fiscal impact statement describing the "projected increase or decrease in revenues, costs, expenditures, or indebtedness" created by the measure. It is made available online or in the state's voter pamphlet.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Revised Code of Washington, Title 29A, Chapter 72, Section 025


See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Wyoming

If the Secretary of State believes that the measure will have a fiscal impact on the state, a fiscal impact statement is also prepared during the review process. The estimate does not consider local finances and may be modified if sponsors provide evidence convincing the Secretary that the estimate is in error. However, if in their final estimates the Secretary and sponsors remain more than $25,000 apart, both estimates must be reflected on the ballot as a range.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Section 309

Voter guides with fiscal impact statements

States that have a fiscal impact statement within the official ballot measure voter guide include:


  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Washington


  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Washington


  • Alaska (partial)
  • Arizona (partial)
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota (partial)
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island[3]
  • Utah
  • Washington


  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Washington


  • Alaska (partial)
  • Arizona (partial)
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Washington


  • California
  • Maine
  • Washington