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 FY10 Budget Recommendation, located at www.mass.gov/budget/governor/.
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 2010, generally shortened to FY10.
To learn more about the budget process, click here.
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. In the second year of the legislative session, the bill is numbered “House 2”. 2009 is the first year of the 2009-2010 legislative session.
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 multi-part document.
- The Introduction provides a general overview of the state’s fiscal condition and planned spending in key areas of government. It includes messages from the Governor and the Secretary of Administration and Finance, a detailed explanation of the policy changes in the budget document, a description of the Governor’s MassGOALS initiative, and Policy Briefs which provide further background for particular budget initiatives. These documents can be found in the Introduction portion of www.mass.gov/budget/governor.
- The Budget Development section includes a detailed discussion of the state’s fiscal condition, financial policies, governance structure, and specific challenges faced in the development of the budget. A detailed discussion on health care is provided, as well as a detailed economic report from the UMass Donahue Institute as an appendix.
- 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. The revenue tables summarize the sources of tax and non-tax revenue, as well as transfers between Commonwealth funds. Finally, fund tables show the breakout of revenues and spending by major government unit for each budgeted fund from FY08 through FY10.
- The line items are the heart of the budget – the individual funding requests by department. Access line items through the Budget Recommendations section.
- Local aid is detailed in section 3, and is accompanied by a Local Aid narrative. School funding and general government aid are detailed by community and school district.
- Outside sections include any law changes needed to implement the budget, and can be accessed from the Outside Sections link on the Navigation panel. Summaries are available for each outside section and can be viewed by selecting sections individually, or by selecting the summary document.
- The Account Listing lists all of the accounts from the FY09 budget, the FY09 estimated spending in those accounts which reflects the impact of the Governor’s mid-year budget reductions, and the FY10 H.1 budget recommendations. Since the Governor’s budget includes substantial consolidations of accounts, a comment describes where the funding for particular accounts is located.
- The Capital Budget describes the Administration’s overall capital policy, and provides a link to the FY2009-2013 capital plan, which can be found at mass.gov/capital.
- The Tax Expenditure Budget details the estimated revenue that is lost in FY08, FY09 and FY10 due to exemptions from taxes. This section is prepared by the Department of Revenue.
- Budget Downloads provides files of the budget, including number details, in various formats such as Word, Excel and PDF.
- Budget Glossary provides a comprehensive list of Massachusetts budget terminology.
- Related Legislation lists bills that are being filed in conjunction with the budget to accomplish some of the policy goals that are reflected in the budget assumptions.
Line Items – Overview of the Budget Recommendation Screens
The budget document has been issued in hardcopy, but the online version offers much additional information. A video clip from the Governor’s press conference on the budget, plus additional information from the unveiling of the budget, is the opening screen. The Navigation panel on the left mirrors the Navigation panel within the main budget application.
Select “Budget Recommendations” to view a table with FY10 spending and revenue recommendations by area of government. Above the table, five tabs provide additional context for reviewing the budget recommendations.
- Budget Summary is the default, displaying FY10 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 FY09 spending which reflect the impact of the Governor’s mid-year budget reductions, and the FY10 budget recommendation.
Spending summarizes spending by expense category (see below for
explanation). Actual expenditures for FY06, FY07 and FY08 are displayed, as
well as projected FY09 spending, and budgeted FY10 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. In FY09, spending is lower because of
mid-year budget reductions.
The expense categories are:
- Wages & Salaries – payroll spending for employees and contractors
- Employee Benefits – health insurance 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
- Grants & Subsidies – grants to public and non-public entities
- Debt Service – payments for Massachusetts’ bonds and contract assistance
- Employment Levels displays the state workforce funded from operating funds as of June 2006, 2007 and 2008, January 2009 and projected for FY10. Employees are counted as full-time equivalents (FTEs) 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.
- Org Chart displays the overall structure of Massachusetts state government, and includes drill-downs into underlying organizational charts for secretariats and their departments.
Pie charts below the spending and budget tables give context for the numbers. For instance, while the statewide budget summary has 12 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.
Additional Information Available
- Agency 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 the Agency Information tab on the Department level screen.
- Related Information – In such a large document, it can be difficult to locate pertinent information on a specific policy area. Each outside section and supporting document has been linked to the departments that are most affected by it. At the Department level, select the Related Information tab to view a list of relevant information.
- 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 accounts.
- 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.
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