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 FY09 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 2009, generally shortened to FY09.
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". 2008 is the second year of the 2007-2008 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.
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
detail around particular issue areas in the budget. These documents can be found in the
Introduction portion of www.mass.gov/budget/governor.
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. It includes as an appendix a detailed
economic report from the UMass Donahue Institute.
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
non-tax revenue, as well as
transfers between Commonwealth funds.
items are the heart of the budget - the individual funding requests by
department. Access line items through the Budget Recommendations section of
Local aid is
detailed in section 3. School funding and lottery distributions are detailed by
community and school district. A quick link to the text of section 3 and an
Excel download are on the budget home
sections include any law changes needed to implement the budget, and can be accessed from
the Outside Sections link 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 "Introduction" at the top left.
Select "Budget Recommendations" to view a table with FY09 spending and revenue recommendations by area of government. Above the table, four tabs provide additional context for reviewing the budget recommendations.
Budget Summary is the default, displaying FY09 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 FY08 spending, and the FY09 budget recommendation.
Historical Spending summarizes spending by expense category (see below for explanation). Actual expenditures for FY05, FY06 and FY07 are displayed, as well as projected FY08 spending, and budgeted FY09 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
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
Local Aid to Cities & Towns - grants and payments to cities, towns and counties
Debt Service - payments for Massachusetts' bonds and contract assistance
- Wages & Salaries - payroll spending for employees and contractors
- Employment Levels displays the state workforce funded from operating funds as of June 2005, 2006 and 2007, January 2008 and projected for FY09. 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.
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.
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
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 the Department 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.
- 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/governor,
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.
- The commonwealth spends a substantial amount on bond-funded capital projects
each year. A section updates the capital policies of the commonwealth and the
current plans for overall capital spending levels.
Tax Expenditure Budget
- In FY09, nearly $19 billion in tax revenues will not be collected due to specific
exemptions in the law. These are detailed in the Tax Expenditure Budget developed
by the Department of Revenue. Exemptions are broken into Personal, Corporate and
Sales Tax categories.
- Nearly the entire budget is available to be downloaded into Word (.doc),
Excel (.xls), or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). Access these options under the Helpful
- A listing of budget terms is included as a resource for readers.
- A number of bills are being filed in conjunction with H.2. Links to these bills
can be found within the Related Legislation page, in addition to bills that
were filed previously and are referenced in the document.
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.
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