What the 2012 Massachusetts Budget Looks Like

Beacon Hill is already wrangling about next year’s budget. But what do you know even about this year’s budget? For that matter, do you have any sense of what Massachusetts spends its money on?

To make it easier, we’ve boiled down the 795 line items in this year’s state budget — stretching from almost $4b in education aid all the way to a single measly dollar for the Franklin Institute of Boston — into this visual chart where each program is sized proportionally to spending:

Take a look, and tell me what you see (and let me know if you want a 3′ x 2′ copy to hang on your wall). Here are my initial thoughts from looking at it:

Health care, health care, health care. Our spending on health care — specifically Medicaid — dwarfs everything else.

Lots of little programs. I’ve always taken the view that the state should have a limited amount of activities but should seek to do them well. Seeing the constellation of little pinpoints, particularly in public health and education, makes me wonder if that’s true.

Negative space. This map contains everything that’s on-budget. There are other ‘off-budget’ items, including transportation spending. And then there are the really off-budget things like the quasi-public authorities. I’d love to see a map of every bit of state level spending.


Crossposted at Pioneer Institute’s blog.