Data Current as of: 8/19/2015
FY2016 Budget Summary Navigation Guide
This Budget Summary Navigation Guide is designed to help users navigate the various iterations of 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 FY16 Budget, located at www.mass.gov/bb/gaa/fy2016.
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 final budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor is called the General Appropriation Act, or GAA. The GAA provides funding for a fiscal year, beginning on July 1 and ending on June 30. The current fiscal year is 2016, generally shortened to FY16.
To learn more about the budget process, click here.
The GAA has several main sections.
- The line items are the heart of the budget - the individual funding levels by department. Access line items through the Statewide Summary section.
- Outside sections include any law changes needed to implement the budget, and can be accessed from the Outside Sections link on the Navigation panel.
- Local aid is detailed in section 3. School funding and general government aid are detailed by community and school district.
- The Account Listing lists all of the accounts with FY15 spending and/or in the FY16 GAA.
- Budget Downloads provides files of the budget, including number details, in various formats such as Word, Excel and PDF.
- Budget Glossary provides a comprehensive list of Massachusetts budget terminology.
- Helpful Links lists bills, laws and official documents that are related to FY16 budget development, veto decisions and related bills.
Line Items - Overview of the Budget Recommendation Screens
The GAA has been issued in hardcopy, but the online version provides considerable content for current and historical spending levels.
Select "Statewide Summary" to view a table with FY16 approved budget levels by area of government. Above the table, five tabs provide additional context for reviewing the budget recommendations.
- Budget Summary is the default, displaying FY conference budget levels, amounts vetoed by the Governor, those overridden by the Legislature, and the resulting General Appropriation Act (GAA) values. The current estimated spending levels are also displayed.
- Budget Tracking displays the funding levels for the different versions of the budget as it made its way through the legislative process. The Governor's budget, House 2, is displayed, as well as the final budgets approved by the House and Senate, and the resulting GAA.
- Historical Budget shows three years of budgeted amounts through the General Appropriations Act (GAA), projected FY15 spending, and the FY16 GAA.
Spending summarizes spending by expense category (see below for
explanation). Actual expenditures for FY12, FY13 and FY14 are displayed,
as well as projected FY15 spending and the FY16 GAA. 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
- Grants & Subsidies - grants to public and non-public entities
- Debt Service - payments for Massachusetts' bonds and contract assistance
- Org Chart displays the overall structure of Massachusetts state government, and includes drill-downs into underlying organizational charts for secretariats and their departments.
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
- Agency 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 Agency 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 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 sections.
- 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 accounts.
- 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.