By law, the Department of Audits and Accounts is required to provide the Legislature with financial information regarding retirement legislation and other bills that are under consideration by the General Assembly. The goal of this program is to provide members of the General Assembly with accurate and relevant information so they can make sound decisions regarding which legislation should be passed into law. As discussed below, there are two types of services provided through this program.
Services Related to Retirement Legislation
Currently, there are 14 defined benefit retirement systems administered at the State level which are required to meet the minimum funding standards outlined in O.C.G.A. 47-20-10. Each time legislation is passed affecting one or more of these retirement systems, it is necessary to evaluate how such legislation will impact the cost to the respective system(s) and determine whether any changes should be made to the employer contribution rate to cover the increased costs. Furthermore, it is necessary to ensure that sufficient funding was provided for in the budget to cover the cost of retirement legislation that is passed into law.
The Department of Audits and Accounts provides these services to the General Assembly throughout both terms of the General Assembly's biennial session. During the sessions, the Department reviews retirement legislation to determine whether such legislation will have a "fiscal" or "non-fiscal" impact on the system. The Department also works with the systems' actuaries to estimate the actual cost of such legislation and then reports such information to the Legislature. Furthermore, once the second term of the biennial session is complete, the Department of Audits and Accounts reports whether or not provisions were made, in the budget, to fund each fiscal retirement bill that was passed into law. During the two-session biennial session, the Department will issue approximately 150 retirement certifications and 50 summaries of actuarial investigations.
Fiscal Note Services
Fiscal notes are an estimate of the expected or potential impact that proposed legislation will have on revenues and/or expenditures of the state and/or local governments. In accordance with Title 28 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, fiscal notes are completed and issued jointly by the Department of Audits and Accounts and the Office of Planning and Budget. Generally, the Department of Audits and Accounts will analyze the legislation that impacts state and/or local expenditures, while the Governor's Economic Advisor prepares the estimate for bills with tax implications.
Legislators that are interested in obtaining a fiscal note must submit the request and a draft of the legislation to the Department of Audits and Accounts by November 1. There are two exceptions to this law. A member-elect will have until December 1 to submit such request. Also, if a bill has been introduced without a fiscal note, the Legislative Committee that has been assigned the bill may request a fiscal note if there is concern that the bill would have significant impact on state revenues or expenditures. All requests that are made prior to November 1 will be completed prior to the start of the Legislative Session. Requests made during the Legislative Session will be completed within five days of the request. Generally, the Department of Audits and Accounts and the Office of Planning and Budget will issue over 100 fiscal notes during each Legislative Session.