User 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 FY11 Budget Recommendation, located at

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 2011.

To learn more about the budget process, click here

The Governor’s budget recommendation for the fiscal year 2011 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”.  2011 is the second year of the 2010-2011 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 Policy Briefs which provide further background for particular budget initiatives.  These documents can be found in the Introduction portion of
  1. 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. 
  1. 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 FY09 through FY11.
  1. The line items are the heart of the budget – the individual funding amounts by department.  Access line items through the Budget Recommendations section.
  1. The operating transfers contain Section 2E of the bill.  The Patrick-Murray Administration is proposing to include this new 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:
  1.    State Retiree Benefits Trust Fund
  2.    Medical Assistance Trust Fund
  3.    Commonwealth Care Trust Fund
  4.    Massachusetts Transportation Trust Fund
  1. 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. 
  1. 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. 
  1. The Tax Expenditure Budget details the estimated revenue that is lost in FY09, FY10 and FY11 due to exemptions from taxes.  This section is prepared by the Department of Revenue.
  1. The Capital Budget describes the Administration’s overall capital policy, and provides a link to the FY2010-2014 capital plan, which can be found at
  1. The Federal Stimulus section of the budget provides an estimate of the total Recovery Act awards over the 27-month program, as well as the Governor’s goals for economic recovery here in the Commonwealth.  It also includes a breakdown of the federal awards received, their spending impact, and commitment status through December 31, 2009.
  1. The Resources section provides useful information to assist the reader to understand the Governor’s Recommended Budget.  These resources include:

  •    The Budget Downloads provides files of the budget, including number details, in various formats such as Word, Excel and PDF.

  •    The Account Listing lists all of the accounts from the FY10 budget, the FY10 estimated spending in those accounts which reflects the impact of the Governor’s mid-year budget reductions, and the FY11 H.2 budget recommendations.  Since the Governor’s budget includes substantial consolidations of accounts, a comment describes where the funding for particular accounts is located.

  •    Economic Overview A detailed discussion on health care is provided, as well as a detailed economic report from the UMass Donahue Institute as an appendix. 

  •    Budget Glossary provides a comprehensive list of Massachusetts budget terminology.

  •    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 FY11 spending and revenue recommendations by area of government.  Above the table, five tabs provide additional context for reviewing the budget recommendations. 

    The expense categories are:

    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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