FY2008 Budget Navigation Guide
This Budget Navigation Guide is designed to help users navigate the state budget and find the information most important to them. The Guide contains a brief explanation of the budget's contents, describing what information can be found in each area. The Guide also provides navigation tips and additional information for using the online presentation of the Governor's FY08 Budget Recommendation, located at http://www.mass.gov/bb/fy2008h1/.
Background of the Massachusetts State Budget
The annual Massachusetts state budget funds all aspects of state government, from the Courts to the Legislature, from Executive Branch agencies to dozens of boards and authorities. The budget recommends funding levels for a fiscal year, beginning on July 1 and ending on June 30. The current budget fiscal year is 2008, generally shortened to FY08.
The Governor's budget is called "House 1" because the House Clerk's office has traditionally reserved the first bill number in each legislative session for the Governor's budget. The Constitution requires the Governor to file the budget by the 4th Wednesday in January. New governors are given an additional 5 weeks to prepare their first budget.
The Governor's budget is a comprehensive four-part document.
- The narrative pieces provide a general overview of the state's fiscal condition and planned spending in key areas of government. They include the Governor's message, a capital overview, and a detailed explanation of the policy changes in the budget document. These documents can be found in the Supporting Information portion of www.mass.gov/budget.
- The financial statements include balance sheets detailing the expected revenue and recommended spending for the current and upcoming fiscal year. They are required by state law to be in balance. These can also be found in the Financial Information section.
- The line items are the heart of the budget - the individual funding requests by department. Access line items through the Budget Recommendations section of www.mass.gov/budget.
- Finally, outside sections include any law changes needed to implement the budget, and can be accessed from the Outside Sections link. The Local Aid distribution is found in Section 3. A quick link to the text of section 3 and an Excel download are on the budget home page.
Line Items - Overview of the Budget Recommendation Screens
The budget document has been issued in hardcopy, but the online version offers much additional information. The Governor's message is the opening screen. To get a description of the overall budget, and some context for the decisions that were made, the full message can be read by following the link at the bottom of the text panel. Additional information is listed under "Supporting Information" at the bottom left.
Select "Budget Recommendations" to view a table with FY08 spending and revenue recommendations by area of government. Above the table, three tabs provide additional context for reviewing the budget recommendations.
- Budget Summary is the default, displaying FY08 spending and revenue. Spending is further distinguished by its source: budgetary funds or federal, trust and intergovernmental service funds.
- Historical Budget shows three years of budgeted amounts through the General Appropriations Act (GAA), projected FY07 spending, and the FY08 budget recommendation.
- Historical Spending summarizes spending by expense category (see below for explanation). Actual expenditures for FY04, FY05 and FY06 are displayed, as well as projected FY07 spending, and budgeted FY08 spending. Actual spending rarely equals the exact budgeted amounts. The reasons may include bills coming in higher or lower than expected, programs starting late, supply issues, accounting rules, or staff turnover.
The expense categories are:
- Wages & Salaries - payroll spending for employees and contractors
- Pensions & Benefits - health insurance, pensions and other employee costs
- Operating Expenses - administrative expenses including office supplies, facility and equipment costs, and information technology
- Public Assistance - programs for Massachusetts citizens - from cash assistance to health care
- Local Aid to Cities & Towns - grants and payments to cities, towns and counties
- Debt Service - payments for Massachusetts' bonds and contract assistance
Pie charts below each table give context for the numbers. For instance, while the statewide budget summary has 14 lines for the various government areas, the funding for Health and Human Services is nearly half of the budget. Similarly, while salaries are the bulk of most agency budgets, the highest statewide category is public assistance.
- To search for a particular account, use the "Where's My Line Item" feature at the top of each screen in the budget site.
- A general search of the entire budget site is also available at the top of each screen.
- The tables are designed for accessing further information about an agency or line item. For instance, after selecting Judiciary from the Budget Summary table, a screen with a list of the judicial departments appears with budget information at that level. Selecting a department will display the relevant line items.
- The list on the left side of the screen also allows for navigating between departments. Select a Government Area from the list, and it will expand to display the related secretariats, and then departments.
- Once a type of information has been selected, such as Historical Spending, the same type of data will be displayed as you navigate between the government levels.
- References to the Massachusetts General Laws or Special Acts since 1997 are linked within the text of the line-item language or outside section for easy review.
- Line-item language is available for each account, but the default is to display only headings for easier analysis. Select "View line item language" to expand the page.
- Detailed information for all secretariat line items can be found by selecting the detail link at the top of the secretariat screens.
Additional Information Available
- Employment Levels - The state employs more than 66,000 employees in its operating budget; even more from off-budget sources. The number of employees by government area is listed below the pie chart on the main budget recommendations panel. Full-time equivalents (FTE's) are displayed as of June 2004, 2005 and 2006, January 2007, and projected for 2008. Employees are counted as FTE's to allow for standard comparisons across years and to avoid confusion from part-time staff; for instance, 2 half-time staff are counted as 1 FTE. Use the links in the table to access additional information, or use the Employment Level tab from the Department screen.
- Department Information - Each department has a page devoted to its mission statement, web site, organizational chart, and related laws and regulations, as available. Access this information from www.mass.gov/budget, or from the Department Information tab on the Department level screen.
- Related Outside Sections - Each outside section has been linked to the departments that are most affected by it. At the Department level, select the Related Outside Sections tab to view a list of relevant outside sections.
- Line-Item Listing - A large number of accounts were consolidated in the Governor's budget. To check their status, or to quickly find a particular account, check the line-item listing from www.mass.gov/budget, or from the link at the bottom of the left-hand navigation panel. A short explanation of transfers and significant funding increases and decreases is included.
- Downloads - Nearly the entire budget is available to be downloaded into Word, Excel or .pdf. Access those options under the Helpful Links section.
- MassHealth Accounts - Funding for the MassHealth program is split between the Executive Offices of Health and Human Services (EHS) and Elder Affairs (ELD). To provide easier analysis of the budget recommendations for MassHealth, a separate page consolidates the affected accounts and displays historical spending. The page can be accessed from the Helpful Links section on www.mass.gov/budget, or from the EHS and ELD department level pages.
- Helpful Links - This page contains a few key state finance law sections, a link to an overview of the Budget process, and a collection of financial reports. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available, including a tool to track funding levels through the budget process.
A full list of outside sections can be viewed by selecting the Outside Sections link from the budget home page, or from the outside sections link at the bottom of the left-hand navigation panel which appears on all pages. Summaries are available for each outside section and can be viewed by selecting sections individually, or by selecting the summary document.