Navigation Guide

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.

  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, 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.

  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. It includes as an appendix a detailed economic report from the UMass Donahue Institute.

  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.

  4. The line items are the heart of the budget - the individual funding requests by department. Access line items through the Budget Recommendations section of www.mass.gov/budget/governor.

  5. 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 page.

  6. Outside 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.

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.

Navigation Tips

Additional Information Available

Outside Sections

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.