What are continuing credits in California bills?

Occasionally, readers may find bills in the California Legislature that provide for “continuing supply.” What are these types of credits?

Remember that California law does not define the term “appropriation”, even if this term is found in the Constitution of the State as well as in many laws. California Legislative Counsel defines a credit as “the amount of money made available for expenditure by a specific entity for a specific purpose, from the General Fund or other designated government fund or account.”

With regard to permanent appropriations, the Senate Budget Committee gives this definition: “Amount available each year by virtue of a permanent authorization for constitutional or statutory expenditure. A continuing allocation does not depend on the adoption of the budget.

Likewise, the California Department of Finance glossary includes two definitions of the term: First, “a fixed amount credit that is available for more than one year”. Second, “a constitutional or statutory expenditure authorization which is renewed each year without further legislative action. The amount available can be a specific amount that recurs each year; all or a specified part of the proceeds of the specified income which has been permanently spent on a certain purpose; or, whatever the amount designated for this purpose as determined by a formula, for example, education allowances.

“Note: Article 13340 of the Government Code terminates continuing statutory credits on June 30, with the exceptions specified in the article and in other laws. Control Article 30.00 of the annual finance law traditionally extends the continuing appropriations for an additional financial year.

The goal of continuous ownership is to provide a specified amount of public funds on an ongoing basis without the need to go through the annual budget process. In terms of what a reader will see in a California Assembly or Senate bill, look for the following:

Invoice title

At the end of the title of the bill and after the citation clause, a reader will see language similar to this:

and by making a credit for this purpose.

Compendium of the Legislative Counsel

In Legislative Counsel’s Digest, a reader will see language similar to the following:

This bill would continually allocate __ of the fund’s annual proceeds to __.

Summary keys

Because a continuing supply bill obviously makes an appropriation, the hash key titled “appropriation” will be marked “yes”. In terms of the vote required, it depends on whether the continuing allocation is from the General Fund (in which case a 2/3 vote is required) or from a Special Fund (in which case a majority vote is required). In summary keys, a reader will see the following keys:

Vote: 2/3 Where majority Credit: yes

Text of the invoice

Finally, in the text of the bill itself, a reader will see language such as the following (taken from a bill in the 2021 session):

Beginning in fiscal year 2022-2023, 25% of the annual proceeds of the Fund are hereby allocated on an ongoing basis, regardless of fiscal year, in a percentage equal to each of the 58 counties in the State for the purpose of __.

Continuing Appropriation Bills are an important part of the legislation considered by the California Legislature and must contain certain information as noted above.

Bernard P. Love