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What's Behind State and Federal Budget Bills? Hottest Topics, Trends, and More

by Veronica Magan, FiscalNote

We look at the data to uncover trends, relevant topics, and insights around budget bills at the federal and state levels.

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Budget and appropriations are a big topic for government affairs professionals to make sure their public policy agenda and issues are represented fairly. As we know, the budget timeline and process don't always go according to plan, so we dove into our FiscalNote data to get an idea of how this process actually plays out in real life.

When Are Most Budget Bills Introduced Across the Country?

We looked at enacted budget bills introduced across state and federal governments between January 1, 2021, and May 1, 2022. We defined budget bills as those with a monetary amount set aside for a particular purpose. With this data, we saw that the “season” for budgetary bills is usually at the beginning of the year, with most introduced in January and February in line with the President’s State of the Union address and budget request to Congress.

Budget bills by month

Hottest Topics Mentioned in Budget Bills

Some budget bills cover a myriad of topics, but looking at the main issues for the analyzed bills shows that (besides specific administrative terms) agriculture, communications, law enforcement and public safety, and wages and compensation are among the most prominent topics covered in budget bills.

Top topics for budget bills

What Programs Get the Most Attention When it Comes to Budget?

We also wanted to know what types of programs get the most attention in budget bills across the nation. Looking at the terms mentioned most in these bills, we found that programs in education, transportation, and healthcare were the most prevalent.

Interestingly, Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) programs also came up as a hot topic, showing the increased attention clean energy is receiving at all levels of government.

These were the programs among the highest occurrence count:

  • Preschool program
  • Short-term residential therapeutic program
  • Peer-to-peer car sharing program
  • Child day program
  • Education program
  • School readiness program
  • Voluntary pre-kindergarten education program
  • Qualified residential treatment program
  • Nurse visitation program
  • Local C-PACE program

Volume of Budget Bills by State

With a population of just over 3 million people, Arkansas is the 34th most populous state in the country. However, Arkansas came out at number one when it comes to the states that enacted the most budget bills in 2021. This could be because the state seems to have many singular budget bills for every department plus Arkansas is also high on the list of most effective states in 2021 at number four.

Budget bills by state

Budget Bills by Region

We used U.S. Census designations to look at the regions where most budget bills were enacted. We found that the west and south, which are the most populous regions of the country, had the most volume, each with more than a thousand budget bills enacted.

Budget bills by region

Top Keywords in FiscalNote Searches

Leveraging FiscalNote usage data, we can glean insights into what’s most important for our clients when it comes to tracking and monitoring the budget process. Based on the Discovery Alerts created in FiscalNote, most of our users are interested in monitoring budget topics around healthcare and education.

Top Healthcare Keywords

  • Health care
  • Medicaid
  • Medical
  • Drug
  • Disability
  • Abortion
  • Dental
  • Pharmacy
  • Prescription
  • Medicare

Top Education Keywords

  • Education
  • School
  • Student
  • Teacher

Interest in Monitoring the Budget Process

Similar to the trends observed on what months of the year budget bills are introduced, FiscalNote users create most of their budget-related Discovery Alerts at the beginning of the year. Interestingly, there’s a big jump in November, which is when ​​the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reviews federal agencies’ proposals and submits them to the president for review.

Discovery Alerts by month

Stay on Top of The Budget and Appropriations Process with FiscalNote

FiscalNote's technology and award-winning newsroom can help your team navigate every twist, turn, and late-night involved in the exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) budgeting process.

From tracking and monitoring bills, to pointed news and analysis on the latest developments, to access to consulting with FiscalNote procurement experts, our solutions can provide your the edge you need to come out of the budget and appropriations cycle on top.

The best analysis of the budget and appropriations cycle

Stay on top of the latest developments and navigate every step in the budgeting process and how it intersects with your priorities with CQ Roll Call.

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