Requests for Appropriation – commonly referred to as RFAs – are a method for legislators to obtain funding for a public project, or to expand an existing program within state government. This method of funding is not to be confused with the funding associated with passed bills, as RFAs are not designed to support the implementation of legislation1. Funding for legislation is carried out through the fiscal note process, though these two pathways to obtaining government funding weren’t always separate.
Prior to the RFA system, attorneys drafted scores of bills that included nothing more than an appropriation – no policy changed, no statute amended. These bills would make their way through the standing committee process, inevitably taking up valuable committee and floor time. Legislators created the two distinct funding paths to allow for a more efficient General Session. By separating the budget items from policies which may or may not have a fiscal impact, the Legislature focused the budgeting and policy making processes, respectively, allowing more to be accomplished in 45 fast-paced days.
By rule, RFAs are due on the 11th day of the General Session at 12pm (this year, that’s Friday, January 27th). After RFAs are submitted, legislative rules direct the chairs of the Executive Appropriations Committee (EAC) to assign an RFA to an appropriations subcommittee, and the chair of that subcommittee to place it on an agenda. During the third week of the session, RFAs (along with all other budget requests) will be prioritized in order of preference by each subcommittee and presented to EAC. EAC’s review is the final step before items are added to an appropriations act.
Although there are no restrictions on which agencies legislators can request to receive the appropriated funding, there are laws for how funding is implemented. The legislature cannot appropriate funding to entities outside the state, meaning that all RFAs go through executive branch agencies, who are required to follow state procurement laws. State law also requires any recipient of state funds to adhere to specific reporting requirements unless the entity was selected through a competitive process.
A portion of the RFA application process focuses on the ‘success’ of the item, and that data helps legislative staff comply with the provisions outlined in H.B. 326 from the 2021 General Session. For more information on the legislature’s performance measurement process, check out this post.
As of publication, 63 RFAs have been approved and assigned to a subcommittee, for a total request of over $720 million one-time and more than $92 million ongoing.
- Joint Rule 3-2-701 states that the LFA shall automatically generate a request for appropriation to fund the fiscal impact of legislation if the legislation has an expenditure impact of $1,000,000 or more from the General Fund or the Income Tax Fund, and LFA knows the fiscal impact of the legislation before the 11th day of session at 12pm.