The state budget is the foundation for responsible government spending. It has a wide-ranging and far-reaching impact on the well-being of the residents of the Commonwealth. It is the vehicle through which we as a citizenry make investments together for the benefit of us all – investments for the “Commonwealth.” It is a policy document, serving to outline how state government chooses to allocate scarce resources to meet a variety of annual and long-term objectives.
Serving as a blueprint for the activities and obligations of the year, the budget reflects our collective judgment about state government’s role in our society, obligations to serve its people and strategic investments to secure its future prosperity. Each line item represents a critical service, program or responsibility that the state will perform or provide to families and individuals throughout fiscal year 2012.
The Patrick-Murray Administration’s fiscal year 2012 budget is a balanced, responsible budget that reflects the continuing financial challenges confronting the Commonwealth since the start of the economic recession in 2008. It is also a vehicle for an aggressive reform agenda. Despite continued improvement in revenue growth in fiscal year 2012, the additional funding available to the state next year will not be able to offset the loss of one-time resources provided through federal stimulus funding for states over the last three fiscal years.
Having solved for budget deficits totaling over $13 billion since the beginning of the fiscal crisis, the Administration is once again submitting a thoughtfully balanced and responsible fiscal year 2012 budget proposal. After accounting for revenue growth, the state must still spend less next year than this year, while continuing to meet its increased long-term liabilities for pensions, retiree health care and debt service. Furthermore, state agencies will need to find further means to control costs and find efficiencies, stretching every taxpayer dollar further to support their programs and services.
The fiscal year 2012 budget relies on a substantially reduced amount of one-time resources (approximately $386 million), in comparison to this fiscal year, which is balanced with $1.9 billion in one-time sources, in particular $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funds.
Massachusetts, much like virtually every state in the nation, faces unprecedented fiscal challenges as federal stimulus aid ends and pensions and other liabilities add spending pressures to the annual budget. The Administration’s budget once again reflects the difficult choices and spending cuts made in response to this reality, while ensuring that the state will be well-positioned in the future to serve its residents. Spending cuts alone will not solve our challenges; in fiscal year 2012 the state will need to fundamentally change the way it does business across an array of government programs, services and operations.
The fiscal year 2012 budget continues to protect investments made in core areas of state government: funding for public education to help close the achievement gap, controlling increasing health care costs, job creation, and addressing youth and urban violence. Protecting these investments will continue to strengthen our economy, and difficult choices made today will allow us to uphold our responsibilities to future generations and position us for growth in the future.
The following sections describe the particular challenges facing the state in developing the fiscal year 2012 budget and highlights the measures proposed to bring fundamental change and innovation to the way the state does business. Graphs and tables have been provided to help illustrate many of the trends and factors affecting the state budget. Also, included within this document is a user guide and glossary to assist in navigating this budget document.