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There is a lot of wonky jargon associated with state appropriations processes. Ballotpedia has an excellent resource outlining basic definitions for key terms to know. On the right-hand side of the same page, make sure to take a look at your state’s budget and finance information to gain additional context.

Additional terms to know include:

  • Appropriation: The amount of spending for a program legally authorized by the legislature.
  • Rider: A rider is an amendment to a law or new law that is attached to a bill but is not directly related to that bill.
  • Fiscal note: A fiscal note is a written estimate of the costs, savings, revenue gain, or revenue loss that may result from the implementation of a bill or joint resolution. It serves as a tool to help lawmakers better understand how a bill might impact the state budget, individual agencies, and, in some instances, local governments.
  • Line-item veto: Also known as an item veto (see Ballotpedia above), partial veto, or an amendatory veto, this is a type of veto power that allows the governor to cancel specific parts of a bill (usually spending provisions) while signing into law the rest of the bill.
  • Earmark: Earmarking is the practice of setting particular money aside for a specific purpose.

For state-specific information, visit your legislature’s website. Many state legislatures or state agencies have glossaries available to the general public. A few examples include Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington.

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