Every year, the executive and legislative branches of California’s government negotiate a state budget.

The state budget is a bill of a different kind, moving through the legislature at its own pace and authorizing expenditures across an array of public services and systems. There may be accompanying ‘trailer bills’ that provide policy language for for programs supported through the budget.

The 2020-2021 Budget proposal works with $220 billion of state funds.


The fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

By January 10: the Governor presents their budget proposal.

January – May: the Legislature reviews the budget proposal and develops their own versions in committees and subcommittees in both houses.

By May 14: Governor releases the May Revision of the budget

By June 15: Legislature must pass a balanced budget. Every day that the budget is late, legislators lose their pay.

The Governor must sign the budget passed by the Legislature, although he has the authority to take away funding from any program with what is called a ‘line-item veto.’ The legislature may override a veto with a ⅔ vote, but it is rare for them to do so.

July 1: start of fiscal year; budget goes into effect

A more detailed visual explaining the roles of the governor, the legislature, and the public can be found here.

To learn about the budget, check out these slides from the California Budget & Policy Center.

Fast Facts

  • In the 2017-2018 budget, more than 7 in 10 state and federal dollars support Health and Human Services or Education.