User 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 FY13 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.  These budget recommendations are for fiscal year 2013.

To learn more about the budget process, please visit www.mass.gov/budget.

The Governor’s budget recommendation for the fiscal year 2013 is called “H.2”.  The House Clerk’s office has traditionally reserved the first bill number in each legislative session for the Governor’s budget.  In the first year of the legislative session, the bill is numbered “House 1”. In the second year of the legislative session, the bill is numbered “House 2”.  2013 is the second year of the 2011-2012 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 Budget Message 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, and Issues in Brief, which provide further background for particular budget initiatives.
  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. 
  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 ma1or government unit for each budgeted fund from FY11 through FY13.
  4. The line items are the heart of the budget – the individual funding amounts by department.  Access line items through the Budget Recommendations section.
  5. The operating transfers contain Section 2E of the bill.  The Patrick-Murray Administration is including this section in the budget to reflect spending that currently occurs in "off-budget" trust funds, but that is more appropriately reflected alongside all other state spending. While expenditures for these programs will continue to occur from trust funds, Section 2E reflects transfers to those funds. This section is particularly important to highlight the Governor’s commitment to transparency and accountability in the budget.  Section 2E includes transfers to the following trust funds:
  6. Local aid is detailed in section 3, and is accompanied by a Local Aid Overview narrative.  School funding and general government aid are detailed by community and school district. 
  7. 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. 
  8. The Tax Expenditure Budget details the estimated revenue that is lost in FY11, FY12 and FY13 due to exemptions from taxes.  This section is prepared by the Department of Revenue.
  9. The Capital Budget describes the Administration’s overall capital policy, and provides a link to the FY2011-2015 capital plan, which can be found at mass.gov/capital.
  10. The Resources section provides useful information to assist the reader to understand the Governor’s Recommended Budget.  These resources include:

Line Items – Overview of the Budget Recommendation Screens

Volume 1 of the budget document has been issued in hardcopy, but the online version offers much additional information.    The Navigation panel on the left mirrors the Navigation panel within the main budget application.

Select “Budget Recommendations” to view a table with FY13 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.

Additional Information Available

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