Navigation Guide

Overview

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The line items are the heart of the budget – the individual funding requests by department.  Access line items through the Budget Recommendations section.
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Budget Downloads provides files of the budget, including number details, in various formats such as Word, Excel and PDF.
  11. Budget Glossary provides a comprehensive list of Massachusetts budget terminology.
  12. 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. 

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.

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