The Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA) was created by State law (M.C.L. 4.1501) as a nonpartisan legislative agency and is designed primarily to provide the Michigan Senate with sound and unbiased assistance in two principal areas.
The first area involves assistance in State fiscal issues. The SFA provides staff support to the Senate Appropriations Committee and assists all members of the Senate on State fiscal issues. The SFA also is responsible for providing the Senate with detailed projections of the United States and Michigan economies and forecasts of State revenue collections.
The second principal area of staff support that the SFA provides to the Senate is analysis of all proposed legislation being considered by the Senate. This support takes the form of written analysis of proposed legislation that is available throughout the legislative deliberation process.
The Senate Fiscal Agency is governed by a five-member Governing Board which is responsible for establishing the overall operating procedures of the SFA and also is charged with the responsibility of appointing a Director to run the Agency.
The members of the Governing Board include the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate, the Appropriations Committee Chairperson, and two other members of the Appropriations Committee appointed by the Appropriations Committee Chairperson with the concurrence of the Majority Leader. One of the appointed members must be from the minority party. The current members of the SFA Governing Board are:
- Senator Jim Stamas, Chair
- Senator Mike Shirkey
- Senator Jon Bumstead
- Senator Jim Ananich
- Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr.
The Senate Fiscal Agency traces its beginnings to 1964, when the Legislative Fiscal Agency was formed by State statute. The Legislative Fiscal Agency was placed under the control of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee and served members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Beginning in 1966 the Legislative Fiscal Agency was placed under the sole control of the Senate Appropriations Committee and in 1972 the name of the Agency was changed to the Senate Fiscal Agency.
During 1985 the Senate Analysis Section, then under the control of the Secretary of the Senate, was moved to the Senate Fiscal Agency and in 1986 the current five-member composition of the SFA Governing Board was established.
The Senate Fiscal Agency has been directed by seven permanent Directors during the history of the Agency. The SFA Directors and their terms of service are the following:
- Arthur Ellis - July 1964 to June 1968
- Eugene Farnum - July 1968 to September 1981
- Theodore Ferris - October 1981 to May 1985
- Patricia Woodworth - September 1985 to February 1988
- Douglas Roberts - April 1988 to December 1990
- Gary Olson - January 1991 to December 2010
- Ellen Jeffries - January 2011 to December 2018
- Christopher Harkins - January 2019 to Present
The Senate Fiscal Agency produces a variety of work products that provide the Michigan Senate with unbiased information regarding a wide range of public policy issues. The Agency also provides the Senate with State budget analysis materials as the annual State budget is debated by the Legislature. Many of these documents are available under the Statewide Budget link. All of these work products are generally available for public distribution unless the work product is subject to confidentiality restrictions specified in the SFA enabling legislation.
Work products of the Agency include the following:
Members of the public may retrieve documents and information from the SFA website or obtain them by calling the SFA at 517-373-2768.
- Analysis of all proposed legislation considered in Senate committees
- Up-to-date status of all budget bills currently before the Legislature
- Detailed forecasts of the United States and Michigan economies
- Detailed forecasts of State revenue
- Monthly reports on State revenue collections and economic conditions
- Quarterly publications on State issues, "State Notes"
- Detailed decision documents and highlight sheets that describe the budget changes at each stage of the process
- Appropriations Reports with analysis of the Governor's budget recommendation, initial enacted appropriations, and year-end State appropriations
- Status of lawsuits involving the State
- Analyses of statewide ballot proposals
The Senate Fiscal Agency is responsible for providing the entire Michigan Senate with objective, nonpartisan analyses of legislation being considered by the Senate. The bill analysis documents include summaries of bills taken up in a Senate standing committee, as well as summaries and detailed analyses of bills reported from committee.
Summaries and detailed analyses of current bills, as well as bills from the 1997-98 and subsequent sessions, are available on the Senate Fiscal Agency's internet site at http://www.senate.michigan.gov/sfa/. In addition, printed copies of analyses of current bills and of bills from previous sessions (beginning in 1980) can be obtained from the SFA's bill analysis unit assistant (517-373-5383 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Summaries of introduced and House-passed bills are prepared for all Senate and House bills that are placed on a Senate committee's agenda. The summaries are a straightforward explanation of the changes a bill would make in current law, and include information on the bill's potential fiscal impact. Summaries may include background information, as well. They are intended to present bills in "plain language", highlighting significant points and deciphering technical terms. These summaries are available at committee meetings.
The SFA also writes summaries of bills reported or discharged from committee. These typically are one-page descriptions of the content and potential fiscal impact of the bills. If a bill is amended on the floor and remains on the Senate calendar, the summary is updated.
For many bills reported from committee, the SFA prepares a detailed analysis. This analysis presents an objective statement of why the bill was introduced, a detailed discussion of what the bill would do, a fiscal analysis, arguments in support of and opposition to the bill, and, sometimes, background information on the bill or the state of the law. The analysis is designed to be a concise and balanced overview of the bill, rather than an exhaustive research paper. Detailed analyses of Senate bills are updated to include amendments adopted on the Senate floor or to reflect a bill as enacted.
(In some cases, the bill analysis staff will write a summary, rather than a detailed analysis, of a Senate bill that has passed the Senate or been enacted. Like a summary written for committee, a summary of a Senate-passed or enacted bill contains a description of the bill's content, fiscal impact, and, sometimes, background.)
All bill analysis documents produced by the Senate Fiscal Agency state the following: "This analysis was prepared by nonpartisan Senate staff for use by the Senate in its deliberations and does not constitute an official statement of legislative intent." In addition, all detailed analyses contain the following statement: "The arguments contained in this analysis originate from sources outside the Senate Fiscal Agency. The Senate Fiscal Agency neither supports nor opposes legislation."