Budget Browser: A new online, interactive tool

(good stuff – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

One of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s goals is to help citizens of the Commonwealth better understand the state budget and how it meets public needs and priorities. With MassBudget’s new online, interactive Budget Browser, citizens can engage in this year’s deliberations and keep track of the many programs and services that they may care about.

The Budget Browser allows you to search for state budget information from Fiscal Year 2001 through the current fiscal year. It is also updated to include budget proposals for the next fiscal year as they are released by the Governor and the Legislature.

The Browser provides you with several ways to look at budget information for Massachusetts. You can see historic spending amounts and trends when you Compare Past Year Budgets; you can Compare Current Budget Proposals for the next fiscal year as they are released by the Governor and Legislature; and you can Compare Current and Past Year Budgets. Second, you can drill down further in your search by choosing Search Line Items & Categories, which allows you to compare spending levels for a single line item or group of line items from FY 2001 to the present.

Budget amounts may be seen in nominal dollars or adjusted for inflation, allowing for meaningful comparisons over time. In addition, users may create and download charts for use in reports, media stories, or other documents.

The Browser tracks line items that have moved from one department to another through various government reorganizations and consolidations, with notes alongside the data alerting the user to these accounting issues.

Some early feedback from users of the online budget tool:

“The Budget Browser is a great new tool for citizens to access current and historical information about government spending.  By making this information so readily available, the Budget Browser will help increase civic engagement and give a clearer picture of what government is doing on our behalf.” — Pam Wilmot, Executive Director, Common Cause Massachusetts, Boston.

“In this time of state budget deficits and harsh cutbacks to state programs, we must know the facts and policy options on the deficit, revenue, and taxes. The best resource for us to be able to do this is in the great material assembled regularly by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, including this budget tool.” — Lew Finfer, Director, Massachusetts Communities Action Network, Dorchester.

“The new Budget Browser cuts the data in far more ways than simply showing me this year’s numbers compared to last year.  It’s a great tool!” — Brian Condron, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, The Home for Little Wanderers, Boston.

A step-by-step guide on how to use the Budget Browser, a Resources & Glossary page, and an expanded Tax Revenue Information section are among the site’s new features.

MassBudget staff members are available to answer questions about using the Budget Browser and provide trainings and presentations for groups and organizations.

The Budget Browser can be found at www.massbudget.org or by clicking here.

About MassBudget