How the Budget Works

Though it is supposed to be open and public, the LA City Budget process is relatively opaque. The below information is from the Mayor’s 2020-21 Proposed Budget (pages 20-23). We will continue to update this page with more detailed information.

Initial Steps

The Mayor releases a budget policy letter to define the city’s priorities for the next year. The Mayor sets the budget priorities and develops the budget.

January 1

By January 1, city departments must have submitted budget requests to the Mayor’s Office.

April 20

By April 20, the Mayor must present a proposed budget to City Council. Unless this falls on a weekend or a holiday in which case, it is the next business day.

Between Mayor’s proposal and June 1

City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee considers the budget, holding various public hearings and hearing from a variety of city departments. The Budget and Finance Committee then develops recommendations to present to the general City Council for a vote.
NOTE: This committee process did not happen this year. The budget went straight to general Council.

June 1

By June 1, City Council must vote to adopt or modify the Mayor’s proposed budget.
NOTE: City Council did not vote on the budget before June 1 this year.

Between June 1 and July 1

If the City Council votes to modify the budget, the Mayor has five days to approve or veto. Our City Charter explains how this process can go back and forth throughout June so the budget is ready for July 1.
NOTE: Because City Council did not vote on the budget before June 1, the Mayor’s budget goes to the City Clerk and will be put into use on July 1.

After the budget takes effect

City Council may propose adjustments to the budget (even once it has taken affect). Adjustments must be voted by City Council and are subject to the approval of the Mayor. It is not clear if this takes place on a schedule or can be done at any point.

So how can residents of LA affect the budget?

Our main lever now is putting pressure on the budget adjustment process which will be led by the City Council Budget and Finance Committee. Any proposed adjustments will move forward to the full City Council for a vote. Then, they go to the Mayor to sign into action or to veto.

Help us make sure City Council and the Mayor work for their constituents by taking action.

Key Players

The Mayor
The Mayor has veto power on matters of the budget. Even though City Council drives the process in this phase, it’s critical he knows what Angelenos want to see. He also has emergency powers that are currently in effect which allow him access to new funding.

Councilmember Krekorian
Councilmember Krekorian is Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. Let him know the People’s Budget LA demands and let him know where you want to see funding go.

Your City Councilmember
City Council often acts as a unit and your biggest voice is with your Councilmember. They can pressure their colleagues, including those on the Budget and Finance Committee, on what kinds of adjustments to propose.

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