Office of Planning & Budgeting

Fiscal Notes

During every Washington State legislative session, the University of Washington is required to provide information to the legislature regarding the fiscal impact of various proposed bills.

RCW 43.88A requires that the state Office of Financial Management (OFM) coordinate the development of fiscal impact statements (fiscal notes) on legislation or legislative proposals. OFM must also approve fiscal notes for form, accuracy, and completeness. The purpose of this process is to provide to the Legislature the estimated cost of legislation that is going through the legislative process.

Useful Resources

Responding to a Fiscal Note Request

If you are asked to respond to a fiscal note, you will receive an email from an OPB Analyst requesting a fiscal analysis on a piece of proposed legislation. The email will include the due date for the fiscal note and a link directing you to the Bill Information where you will find information about the bill (bill text, movement within the legislature, bill report). The fiscal note will be due to the legislature in less than 72 hours from the time you receive your email, so please respond as soon as possible.

For your convenience and to make sure we have all the information we need, the initial email will likely include two templates: one for the narrative (sent as a Word doc) and one for calculations (sent as an Excel file). Please send those files back to your analyst as soon as they are filled out, along with any other working documents you’ve been using.

Tips for Completing a Fiscal Note:

  • Write for a general audience, avoid jargon, spell out acronyms
  • Report on the bill’s impact to the UW only, including Bothell and Tacoma campuses if necessary
  • Report only the new costs/impacts caused by the bill (the incremental impact of the bill)
  • Don’t build in inflation
  • Identify costs/receipts as one-time or ongoing
  • Show impacts (costs, receipts, FTEs) by fiscal year
  • Identify and explain all underlying assumptions; costs should be justified, and logic made clear
  • For additional staff needed to comply with the bill, we need:
    • Their title, full-time annual salary, benefits rate/classification, and FTE amount or hours needed per year (note: FTE is calculated as # of hours/2080 work hours in a year)
  • Create your estimates based on the least expensive way to implement a policy (even though this might not be the ideal way to do it)
  • Provide an explanation and a best estimate/range of scenarios if the fiscal impact is indeterminate (too many variables/unknowns). Provide details for what we can and cannot estimate and why
  • Provide an explanation if there is no fiscal impact to the UW
  • The sooner we hear from you, and the more detail you give us, the better!

As a reminder, general policy feedback (i.e. non-fiscal analysis and opinions) should be reported separately from the fiscal impact of a bill. To provide commentary on a bill, please submit policy feedback and recommendations in LobbyGov. Note that fiscal notes should take priority over bill analysis.

Feel free to reach out to your assigned fiscal note analyst with questions on specific fiscal notes, or Michael Lantz for any general fiscal note questions or concerns.

Additional Resources

Please direct questions to

Michael Lantz

OPB Policy, Planning & State Operations team contacts can be found here.