Developing and executing the state of North Carolina’s budget drives much of the work we do at OSBM. Here are the basics of the state budget process in North Carolina and OSBM's role.
How Is the State Budget Created?
- A Consensus Revenue Forecast projects what the state revenues will be for the fiscal years covered by the budget. This forecast is developed by OSBM and the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division. Learn more about OSBM's revenue forecasting.
- State agencies submit budget needs to OSBM. Budget proposals are reviewed by OSBM and the Governor’s Office.
- Governor recommends a budget based on information provided by state agencies, the Governor’s priorities, and the revenue forecast. See past budget recommendations.
- General Assembly deliberates and passes a budget in an appropriations act.
- Governor signs or vetoes the appropriations act. If the governor signs the act, it become law. If the governor vetoes the act the legislature may try to override the veto. If the override is successful, the appropriations act becomes law without the Governor's signature. If they do not override the veto the state will operate under a continuing resolution until a new appropriations act is passed and signed into law.
- After the budget is law, OSBM certifies each agency budget in accordance with the appropriations act. Agencies can then operate with the new budget. See current and past certified budgets.
The state operates on a biennial budget, which means our state budget covers two fiscal years. Adjustments can be made to the budget for the second year. North Carolina’s state fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following calendar year. For example, the fiscal year 2022-23 begins July 1, 2022, and ends June 30, 2023.
The state must maintain a balanced budget, which means state revenues must cover all spending. That’s why we produce a revenue forecast before developing a budget and why OSBM monitors state revenue on an ongoing basis.
General Fund, Highway Fund & Highway Trust Fund
The state General Fund is the source of funds for most state operations. Revenue to the General Fund comes primarily from taxes. Some revenue also comes from fees and investment earnings. Highway Fund and the Highway Trust Fund fund transportation. Revenues in the Highway Fund include excise tax on motor fuels, motor vehicle licenses and fees, and interest earnings. The Highway Trust Fund revenues comes from taxes on vehicle sales, a portion of motor fuel taxes, and title and lien fees.
Reserves and Special Funds
In addition to the General Fund, Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund, the state maintains accounts called reserves and special funds. Special funds have a specific revenue source and are devoted to a specific purpose. For example, the NC State Lottery Fund or the Tobacco Settlement Fund. Reserves are accounts in which funds are set aside for a specific future or ongoing purpose. This includes the Savings Reserve, State Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Fund, and Medicaid Contingency Fund.
OSBM evaluates agencies' budget requests and prepares the Governor's budget recommendations to present to the North Carolina General Assembly. By law, the state budget must be balanced based on revenue projections for the fiscal year. The budget development process must consider the needs, priorities and available resources.
OSBM works closely with the agencies to manage their budgets and allotment planning over the course of the fiscal year. Our office monitors and considers any requests to make budget adjustments within the framework of relevant laws, rules, and policies.
To help with the planning of the new budget and to monitor changing financial conditions that may affect the current budget, OSBM regularly conducts economic analysis, including revenue forecasting. This is an important tool to assess changes to policy or programs and to guide the state’s budget and financial management.
Pursuing Operational Excellence
OSBM is committed to emphasizing measurable results and encouraging efficient and effective management of state resources. We provide a suite of services to assist state agencies and produce a variety of reports to help fulfill this mission.
Where to Learn More About Our State Budget
Open Budget is a dynamic site where you can explore current and past state budgets and expenditures.
The State Budget Manual provides additional guidance and rules on how state agencies manage their budgets.
OSBM provides training resources for state agencies for basic state budget concepts. OSBM offers training when new budget instructions are issued for key annual budget processes.
The North Carolina Office of State Controller provides many reports on the state’s finances.
The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) has a series of informative videos to help understand the state budget process.