Thursday, February 11, 2016

MassBudget: Tools for Understanding State Budget Proposals

MassBudget resources to use during the budget season

MassBudget  Information.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center  Democracy.

Tools for Understanding State Budget Proposals 

On January 27th, the Governor kicked off state budget season by releasing a detailed Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal. While the final state budget is largely crafted by the Legislature, the Governor's proposal begins an important process of determining what we as a Commonwealth hope to do together through our government, and detailing how we will pay for those things. Key subsequent steps in the process:
  • In April, the House will debate and approve its FY 2017 budget proposal.
  • In May, the Senate does the same.
  • In June, a joint House/Senate conference committee will reconcile differences between these two budgets.
  • The final budget plan, which requires the Governor's signature, will ideally be completed by July 1st, the beginning of FY 2017.
Since the state budget is often the most important policy document of the year, our team at MassBudget works hard to produce the following resources for helping you stay informed and engaged in the public debate. We hope you find them useful!

Budget Monitors (hyperlink in title)
Shortly after each major budget release, we produce a written Budget Monitor that analyzes major proposals across a range of key areas (e.g. education, transportation, health care, revenue). As soon as they're written, we send Monitors out to our email list and post them on our website. Here is our Governor's Budget Monitor, which we released last week, and here is our FY 2017 Budget Preview, which lays out major fiscal challenges entering next year.

Budget Browser Our Budget Browser, which we just updated with all of the Governor's FY 2017 spending proposals, is a user-friendly online tool where you can track all state spending back to FY 2001. You can drill down to individual programs (called line items) or look at clusters of programs that support similar activities (e.g. Child Welfare). You can adjust for inflation so that comparisons make sense over time, and you can generate your own tables and graphs.

Each line item of the Browser has a "Proposals" tab, where you can compare each of the FY 2017 proposals as they are released.

Children's Budget and Jobs and Workforce Budget
These two web tools are similar to the Budget Browser in that they track state funding for programs in these areas--state programs related to children and state programs that support jobs and workforce training. But they go an important step further by also including written program descriptions and links to other useful resources for more detail. These tools are also updated during the budget season.


Finally, do not hesitate to reach out directly to any of our analysts, who are the true experts behind each of these great resources. You'll find contact information and their respective research areas on our website's staff page.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

BOSTON, MA 02108
Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, 15 Court Square, Suite 700, Boston, MA 02108

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