Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst - Background

Utah's Legislative Fiscal Analyst is selected by the state's Legislative Management Committee and appointed by approval of the Legislature as a whole. The Fiscal Analyst is charged by law with duties and responsibilities relating to fiscal oversight, as described below.

Thirty days prior to each legislative session, the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, by statute, receives from the Governor proposed budget recommendations. The Fiscal Analyst is required to review this executive budget before the Legislature convenes and to make recommendations and comments to the Legislature on each item or program. The Analyst not only recommends specific levels of funding, but also: (1) highlights instances in which the administration may be failing to carry out the expressed intent of the Legislature; (2) calls attention to each proposed new service contained in the Governor's budget; and (3) points out items that have been previously denied by the Legislature.

Just prior to and during each legislative session, the Fiscal Analyst and his staff gather and analyze data and prepare and present reports to the several appropriations subcommittees. The Office of the Fiscal Analyst provides staff support to each subcommittee of the Joint Appropriations Committee and is responsible for presenting independent recommendations to those subcommittees. The Office also responds to information requests of the Joint Appropriations Committee, and, under the committee's direction, prepares the appropriations bill for submission to the Legislature.

The Fiscal Analyst and staff are also responsible for providing fiscal notes on proposed legislation. As most bills have some fiscal implication, the Fiscal Analyst's task is to identify such implications by analysis including direct contact with agencies affected by the legislation. Fiscal notes prepared by the Analyst represent an independent appraisal, but are in no way binding upon the Legislature.

Further, the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst is directed by law to prepare revenue estimates for existing and proposed revenue acts. Prior to each Legislative session, the office makes detailed revenue estimates for all state operating funds. These estimates are delivered to the Legislature in addition to estimates prepared by the executive branch. The Office of the Fiscal Analyst must also "propose and analyze statutory changes to effect operation economies of more effective administration" and to "conduct organizational and management improvement studies."

Following each legislative session, the Fiscal Analyst prepares and issues a full report on the fiscal impact of legislative action taken. This "Appropriations Report" contains a summary of all appropriations, reductions, and increases; as well as revenue measures, new programs, and expressed legislative intent.

References to the responsibilities of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst can be found in: Utah Code Annotated 36-12-13; Budgetary Procedures Act (U.C.A. 63J Chapter 1); Fund Consolidation Act (U.C.A. 51-5-3); and State Money Management Act (U.C.A. 51-7).

Office History

In February 1965, the Utah State Legislature established the Office of Legislative Analyst within the Utah Legislative Council. The Legislative Audit Standing Committee, with the approval of the council, was held responsible to select and appoint the Legislative Analyst. The Legislative Analyst was required to review in detail the executive budget, report the justification of agency requests, prepare cost estimates on all proposed bills, call attention to new services in the governor's budget, propose statutory changes to effect operational economies, and conduct organizational and management improvement studies.

One year later, the Utah Legislative Study Committee was created by the Legislature in February 1966 to study and make recommendations concerning legislative sessions, staffing, and salaries.

The committee recommended that the offices of Legislative Analyst and Legislative Auditor be established under a new committee, the Budget and Audit Committee. The committee and its staff began operations in August 1966, undertaking the overall task of developing a legislative program for managerial and fiscal oversight of the executive branch of state government.

After a constitutional question arose as to whether the Legislative Auditor's duties conflicted with those of the State Auditor, the Budget and Audit Committee combined the offices of Legislative Analyst and Auditor into a single office known as the Office of Legislative Analyst with the Auditor reporting through the Legislative Analyst. The Office of Legislative Analyst continued to operate under the general management direction of the Budget and Audit Committee.

In 1970, the Legislature established nine Joint Appropriations Subcommittees comprised of all members of the Legislature. Prior to this time, the Joint Appropriations Committee collectively included approximately 25 legislators. The Legislative Analyst's Office had been able to serve the Joint Committee with a relatively small staff. The new committee structure resulted in an increase in legislative fiscal staff and the Analyst's Office attempted to meet the increased workload by staffing each subcommittee with at least one analyst.

The Legislative Organization Act of 1975 established the organization of interim legislative activities and created and outlined the responsibilities of four new legislative staff offices: Legislative Auditor General, Legislative General Counsel, Legislative Research, and Legislative Fiscal Analyst. Leo L. Memmott was appointed as the Legislative Fiscal Analyst.

The act abolished the Legislative Counsel, the Budget and Audit committee, and other interim committees and established management committees in each chamber. The two committees, when meeting jointly, form the Legislative Management Committee. This committee consists of four members of each party from each house. Within the committee is the Budget Subcommittee, which is responsible for recommending a person to hold the position of Legislative Fiscal Analyst. The Legislative Fiscal Analyst, also referred to as the Director, is appointed without regard to political affiliation for terms of six years.

In February 2018, the Legislature added a new responsibility to monitor and recommend actions to enhance the state's long-term fiscal health. Although additional tasks have been assigned throughout the years, the duties of the current Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, under the oversight of the Budget Subcommittee, are essentially the same as those in the past. The Fiscal Analyst continues to serve as the fiscal adviser to the Legislature with emphasis on analysis of the executive budget, preparation and analysis of revenue estimates, and preparation of fiscal notes on all proposed legislation. The current Legislative Fiscal Analyst is Jonathan C. Ball.

List of Legislative Fiscal Analysts

DirectorYears
Leo L. Memmott1975-1998
John E. Massey1998-2007
Jonathan C. Ball2007-present

 

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Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst
House Building, Suite W310
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Ph: (801) 538-1034
Fx: (801) 538-1692