Can you figure out the state budget?

Can you figure out the budget? - The Boston Globe: "KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. That's why a democracy can't work properly unless taxpayers know how their tax dollars are being spent.

Each year, the state budget allocates over $25 billion -- $4,000 for every man, woman, and child in the Commonwealth -- to services such as education, public safety, roads, public health, and environmental protection. Yet that budget is often inscrutable to all but the most sophisticated reader.

The state budget document is so hard to understand that ordinary citizens don't have the knowledge they need to shape critical choices about what government does, and how it does it. In fact, rank and file legislators frequently cannot understand clearly the fiscal and programmatic implications of the budgets on which they are asked to vote."

You can download the report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center here.

The State House has several links on its website but good luck figuring out what is what. You can end up on a huge web page like this one or you can go to a site like the Senate 2007 Budget website where a search for "Allston" or "Brighton" finds things like:

Mr. Tolman moved that the bill be amended, in Section 2, in item 4513-1000 by inserting at the end thereof the following:
“provided further, that not less than $500,000 shall be directed to a community health center with locations both in the Allston neighborhood of Boston and in Waltham.”

"For the purposes of a federally funded grant entitled, Suffolk County Drug Courts Enhancement at the Brighton Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department........................................... $73,457"

But I don't see any way to get a clear overview how where the $25 billion goes or how the state's priorities change from year to year.


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