When it comes to open, transparent government, there are few things more important to many of our readers than shining some sunlight on the federal budget. Put simply, people want to know how our money is spent - especially since just about every dollar we make between January and May is "spent" on our taxes. And for all that "investment" in our government, it's one of the only things in our lives we don't get a receipt for.
My colleague Daniel asked last week about the need for a site like Budget.gov that is open and easily accessible to the public. It's a great idea.
One of the other first things we can do is simply point out the process and shine some light on it.
The staff at Congressional Quarterly put this extremely useful calendar together yesterday
Feb. 1 (yesterday): President Obama submits his fiscal 2011 budget request to Congress.
Feb. 2: Congressional committees begin hearings on president’s budget request.
April 15: Statutory deadline (though frequently missed) for Congress to complete its annual budget resolution. The resolution sets a limit on discretionary spending and may include instructions for a reconciliation bill.
May 15: The date after which the House may consider fiscal 2011 spending bills even if a final budget resolution has not been adopted.
July 3: Beginning of Congress’ Independence Day recess. This is the informal deadline that House leaders set for passing all 12 regular appropriations bills.
July 15: President submits his mid-session review of the budget to Congress, which includes revised deficit estimates.
Aug. 7: Beginning of the Senate’s summer recess. This is the Senate’s informal deadline for passing all 12 spending bills.
Mid-August: Congressional Budget Office issues updated budget projections.
Sept. 13: House and Senate return from summer recess with 18 days to negotiate their differences and clear all appropriations bills before the new fiscal year begins.
Oct. 1: Fiscal 2011 begins. A continuing resolution would now be required to finance any agency whose appropriations bill has not been enacted.