Citizen's Guide to the Budget: Budget Terms
- This reflects what an agency spent or encumbered at the end of a fiscal year.
Agency Budget Request
- The budget request prepared by State agencies, due to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in September or October, is based on an agency’s expected revenues and proposed expenditures as a result of the agency’s statutory and legislative mandates, goals and objectives, costs, and priorities.
- The amount of proposed spending by the Governor for all programs in the State budget. In most instances, the General Assembly may subtract from, but may not add to, the allowance. DBM analysis informs the gubernatorial decision process that results in the amount included in the budget books, budget files, and budget bill submitted to the General Assembly.
- The amount of spending for a program legally authorized in the State operating budget bill by the General Assembly. Appropriations are only available during one fiscal year.
- The maximum amount included in the Maryland Consolidated Capital Bond Loan (State Capital Budget) for a capital project, to be funded when the State issues general obligation (GO) bonds. Unlike appropriations in the operating budget, capital budget authorizations remain available until they are de-authorized. However, State law requires local bond bill authorizations to be terminated by the Board of Public Works (BPW) after two years if the matching requirement has not been met or after seven years for State projects. An exemption can be requested from BPW.
- The number of employees that may be employed at any one time on the regular State payroll. The number of authorized positions includes the sum of filled and vacant positions. An agency may not exceed its total of authorized positions. Authorized positions for a given fiscal year are enumerated in that year’s budget. The number of authorized positions may be increased during the fiscal year either through the State’s BPW or by agencies with position creation authority, such as higher education.
Board of Public Works
- Consisting of the Governor, the Comptroller of Maryland, and the State Treasurer, BPW approves State capital projects, procurement contracts, and the acquisition, use, and transfer of State assets.
Board of Revenue Estimates
- Official estimates of State revenues are issued annually in March, September, and December by the three-member board. Members include the Comptroller of Maryland, the State Treasurer, and the Secretary of Budget and Management.
- Local legislative initiatives, often referred to as bond bills, are bond authorization bills filed by members of the General Assembly to support specific local or non-State-owned capital projects. Approved funding for local legislative initiatives is included in the annual capital budget bill. Individual bond bills are not passed by the General Assembly.
- A one-time salary adjustment that is not included in the salary base.
- After the operating budget is enacted, agencies can either transfer appropriations internally or can increase special, federal, or reimbursable fund appropriations by budget amendment. Amendments that propose to increase federal or special funds in excess of $100,000 require budget committee review and comment. With certain exceptions, appropriations may not be transferred between agencies. The overall general fund appropriation cannot be increased by budget amendment. Statewide allocations, such as for increments or a general salary increase, are often budgeted centrally and reallocated by budget amendment. A small amount of funding is also appropriated annually in the BPW Contingent Fund for allocation to agencies, which is reallocated by budget amendment.
- The budget bill is the legal instrument through which appropriations are made. Maryland has a program budget. Appropriations are made in the budget bill by fund at the program level for each State agency. Although the budget bill is introduced in both chambers of the legislature, it is common practice to alternate which bill is acted upon during the legislative session.
- A series of volumes published each January that present the Governor’s allowance and proposed deficiency appropriations to the General Assembly for all appropriated programs in the operating and capital budgets. A volume on Budget Highlights includes a series of standard appendices that provide detail on revenues, spending, personnel, etc.
- The budget bill is assigned to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. The budget committees hold hearings on the agencies and programs that receive appropriations in the operating budget bill and authorizations in the capital budget bill.
- The period of time that covers the life of a budget, from inception by the executive to closeout. Even though Maryland has a 12-month fiscal year, one entire budget cycle takes 29 months. One budget cycle includes the following stages: budget development, legislative review and enactment, implementation, and closeout.
- The operating budget bill is enacted when the conference committee report is adopted by the House and Senate chambers of the General Assembly.
- Budgets are presented in formats that are organized around line items, agency programs, or proposed performance activities. Each format differs in the level of detail provided. Maryland’s budget has a program budget, although the budget books continue to report the budget using a line-item format. An element of performance budgeting is provided through the Managing for Results initiative.
Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act
- In conjunction with the operating budget bill, budget reconciliation legislation may be introduced by the Governor in order to ensure a balanced budget. Unlike the operating budget bill, budget reconciliation legislation proposes to make temporary or permanent changes in revenues or mandated appropriations in State law, implement transfers, or abolish programs.
Budget Submission Date
- Per the State Constitution, the Governor must submit the proposed budget (allowance) to the legislature on the third Wednesday of January. Funds are disbursed by the State directly to units of local government, nonprofit corporations, and individuals for specific purposes.
- A department, board, commission, office, institution, or other unit of organization that has, under general law, an independent existence, and thus is authorized to receive and expend an appropriation. A department or agency may have one or more budget units in the budget bill.
- Uncommitted special or federal funds at the close of a fiscal year have their appropriation canceled. Special funds are returned to the fund from which they were originally appropriated. Federal funds are reappropriated in another fiscal year since the State usually has several years to spend federal dollars.
Capital Debt Affordability Committee
- The committee annually reviews the size and condition of State tax-supported debt and advises the Governor and General Assembly regarding the maximum amount of GO debt that may be authorized for the next fiscal year. The committee consists of the Comptroller of Maryland, the State Treasurer, the Secretary of Budget and Management, the Secretary of Transportation, and a public member. A report is issued each fall.
- An expenditure for the acquisition or construction of buildings or other fixed assets, or for other tangible assets with a useful life of at least 15 years.
- After a fiscal year ends, agencies account for all appropriations as either spent, encumbered, or reverted/cancelled. Unspent general fund appropriations revert to the General Fund. Unspent special or federal fund appropriations are canceled. Special funds return to the fund of origin for future appropriation. Federal funds are typically available for more than the State fiscal year and can be reappropriated in the budget bill or by budget amendment.
- The State of Maryland uses 13 Comptroller Objects as the basis for reporting the budget on a line-item basis. Examples include “travel,” “contractual services,” and “supplies and materials.”
- A conference committee is charged with resolving differences between bills passed by the two chambers of the General Assembly. For example, differences in the operating budget bill are resolved by a conference committee consisting of members from the budget committees.
- A formal agreement, with appropriate approvals, between the State and an independent contractor for outside vendor services or products.
Contractual Full-time Equivalent (FTE)
- Agencies generally use contractual employees for tasks of a limited duration or seasonal nature. Contractual employees are not eligible for most State fringe benefits. One FTE is equal to 2,080 hours. A seasonal employee who works 20 hours a week for one-half of the year would count as a 0.25 FTE.
- Services provided by a business, organization, or individual who is not a State employee. Equipment includes communication, printing, advertising, utilities, repairs, equipment rentals or lease/purchases, and professional services.
Cost-of-living Adjustment (COLA)
- Salary increases to reflect increases in the cost of living that are based on negotiations rather than merit or longevity.
Current Restricted Funds
- Funds that may be used by higher education institutions only for restricted purposes. These funds consist principally of research grants and donations for particular purposes (e.g., student aid).
Current Unrestricted Funds
- Funds that may be used by higher education institutions without restriction. These funds consist principally of the State appropriation, tuition, and student fees.
Debt Service Coverage
- Debt service coverage is a ratio of available revenues to required principal and interest payments in a given fiscal year. Requiring a level of coverage is one method of limiting the issuance of State debt. For example, one of the limiting factors for GO bonds is a policy that limits debt service to 8% of State revenue.
Dedicated Funds (See Special Funds)
- Funds collected from a specific revenue source that must be appropriated for a specific expenditure, in accordance with State law. An example is park fees that are credited to a fund that supports the operating costs of State parks.
- An appropriation for an expense in the current fiscal year that is not covered by the existing budget. Deficiency appropriations usually occur when workloads exceed projected amounts, new legislation requires expenditures not provided in the budget, or unanticipated needs arise. Deficiency appropriations are included in either the operating budget bill or in a supplemental budget.
Department of Budget and Management
- The control agency for the Executive Branch, DBM, oversees the development and implementation of the operating and capital budgets, and statewide personnel, excluding agencies with separate personnel systems.
Department of Legislative Services
- The nonpartisan agency provides all staffing services to the General Assembly, including committee staffing, drafting of legislation, analysis of the proposed operating and capital budgets, and preparation of fiscal and policy notes for each piece of proposed legislation.
- A type of performance measure that consists of a ratio of inputs to outputs. For example, the cost to pave a lane mile of highway is one way to determine if revenues are allocated efficiently.
- At the end of a fiscal year, an agency can set aside (i.e., encumber) appropriations where there is a contract for goods that will not be delivered before the fiscal year ends. For accounting purposes, encumbered funds are shown as actual spending. When the goods are delivered, the invoice is paid from the encumbered funds associated with the fiscal year in which they were set aside.
- Certain programs that provide benefits to individuals based on specific statutory eligibility requirements. Medicaid is the largest entitlement program operated by the State.
- Cash paid or to be paid for the purchase of an item or for a service performed.
- Grants and other payments from the federal government that are expended through the State budget to fund various activities funded by the federal government. Such funds are subject to applicable federal laws and regulations. Federal funds often require a State funding match. Before an agency can spend these funds, its budget must contain a federal fund appropriation for at least the amount of funds to be spent. Medicaid is the largest entitlement program in the State budget, providing health care based on income.
- Charges associated with using a particular service provided by State government to its citizens. The charge generally recovers the cost of providing the service. Examples include State park receipts and license registration renewal.
- The Fiscal Digest is produced annually by DBM by July 1 that lists the appropriations enacted by the General Assembly in the State Budget for the new fiscal year. The Fiscal Digest also contains other budgetary information for the enacted budget, such as deficiency appropriations for the most recently completed fiscal year.
- The calendar on which the State operates for financial purposes. Maryland’s fiscal year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30.
- Benefits that are provided to State employees over and above their salaries as an inducement to employment. These benefits include retirement, health insurance, and Social Security.
- A separate accounting entity, maintained for a particular purpose, for which transactions are subject to legal or administrative restrictions. This term is distinguished from “funding” or “funds,” which usually refer to the amount of dollars contained in a fund. A fund is comparable to a checking or savings account.
- Any State revenue that is not credited to a dedicated fund is credited to the General Fund. Monies in the General Fund may be used for any activity of the State. State income and sales tax revenues are the primary sources of general funds. Less than half of State spending is attributable to the General Fund.
General Obligation Bonds
- GO bonds are a form of debt issued by the State. They are backed by the full faith and credit of the State and are limited by the Constitution of Maryland to a 15 year term of maturity. Debt service on GO bonds is paid by a combination of general funds and a portion of the property tax that is credited to a dedicated fund (i.e., the Annuity Bond Fund).
General Salary Increase
- Unlike a COLA, a general salary increase may be provided to State employees irrespective of changes in inflation.
- Funds disbursed by the State directly to units of local government, nonprofit corporations, and individuals for specific purposes.
- Overhead expenditures that cannot be directly charged to the program providing services. Indirect costs represent administrative and support services an agency provides (such as budgeting, accounting, and purchasing) to allow the direct delivery of services.
- A type of performance measure that consists of the amount of resources allocated to a purpose, such as revenues or appropriations. Cases are also a form of inputs, such as the number of students or inmates.
Joint Chairmen’s Report (JCR)
- Issued after the operating and capital budgets have been passed, the JCR lists each action (i.e., cuts, budget bill language, or increased spending for capital projects) adopted by the General Assembly as well as expressions of policy intent through committee narrative.
- The amount of spending for a program following legislative action on the budget (i.e., the budget is enacted). The legislative appropriation reflects the amount that each agency has to spend as of July 1, the first day of the fiscal year.
Maintenance of Effort Requirements
- A requirement by the federal (or State) government that the State (or local) government continue funding certain programs at a certain level, usually the same funding level as in the current or a prior year, in order to receive federal (or State) funds.
Managing for Results
- Began in 1999 and codified in Chapter 452 of 2004, this is a strategic planning process intended to institute performance measurement techniques for all State government programs.
- Mandated appropriations are legal commitments that require the Governor to include a certain level of funding for specific programs and purposes in the allowance. Per a 1980 Opinion by the Attorney General, a mandate must clearly prescribe a dollar amount or an objective basis from which a level of funding can easily be computed.
Maximum Debt Outstanding
- A legal or policy limit on how much unpaid principal may be carried during a fiscal year, which is one form of restricting the issuance of new debt. Maryland GO debt, for example, is limited by a policy that restricts the maximum debt outstanding to 4% of personal income.
Memorandum of Understanding
- Agreements that are often used between State agencies in contracting for goods or services or for establishing policies and procedures.
- Some agencies have independent authority to make expenditures without legislative appropriations. Examples include the Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund (which provides workers’ compensation insurance) and the Maryland Transportation Authority (which operates certain bridges, tunnels, and other transportation facilities). These agencies have independent revenue sources (e.g., insurance premiums, toll revenues).
- A plan for the yearly distribution of State resources for the ongoing operations of State programs. Operating budget appropriations are made for one fiscal year and any unexpended or unobligated funds lapse, i.e., revert to the fund from which they were appropriated, at the end of the fiscal year.
- As distinguished from “capital expenditures,” these are expenses of ongoing operations of government and other expenditures.
- A type of performance measure that attempts to measure the actual result of the use of State resources. An example would be when a student graduates from a higher education institution and can find employment in his or her field of study.
- A type of performance measure that consists of what is produced by a State program. The number of inmates released from incarceration from State prisons annually is an example of an output measure.
- The use of cash in the operating budget for a capital purpose. Since there are limits on the use of tax-exempt debt for private activities, housing and economic development programs are often funded with PAYGO. It is also a good fiscal policy to use PAYGO for capital purposes when there is a general fund surplus. Use of a surplus for a one time purpose does not build ongoing spending into the operating budget.
- The sale of debt for a capital purpose is referred to as pay-as-you-use financing, because principal and interest payments are made over the life of the infrastructure. Unlike PAYGO, where current-year taxpayers pay for the infrastructure in its first year, the cost of infrastructure is spread out to multiple generations of taxpayers.
- Measures show progress toward the accomplishment of objectives. They provide the yardstick by which programs are evaluated. Measures describe inputs, outputs, quality, efficiencies, or outcomes of programs.
- An authorized job slot that requires the creation of a Position Identification Number or PIN. All authorized positions are fully funded in the State budget. To account for open positions due to resignations, retirements, or new positions, the budget is reduced by a factor called turnover expectancy.
- Maryland officially has a program budget, which are functional categorizations of agency functions. For example, the State Highway Administration has separate programs for highway construction and highway maintenance.
- A type of performance measure that consists primarily of customer surveys or reviews of a program or service. For example, customers may be asked if they were satisfied with the wait time and service provided through a Motor Vehicle Administration branch office.
- Funds transferred between agencies as payment for services provided by one agency to another. For example, each operating agency pays the Department of Information Technology (DoIT) for the actual cost of its telephone usage from its general, special, or federal funds. DoIT, in turn, pays the telephone service provider with reimbursable funds. State appropriations count only the general, special, and federal funds that agencies expend to DoIT for telephone service. Reimbursable fund spending is only shown in the Budget Books to show total agency spending. It is not reflected in the budget bill so that the source revenue is not double counted.
- Any debt that is solely backed by an individual or group of revenues is a revenue bond. Revenue bonds are slightly more costly than GO bonds because they are not backed by the full faith and credit of the government and thus have greater risk of not being repaid.
- Taxes, fees, and sales, etc., that are collected by the State and are available for expenditure in a budget recommended by the Governor and approved by the General Assembly.
- The balance of a general fund appropriation that is remaining after the close of a fiscal year reverts back to the general fund balance.
- Revenues dedicated to a specific purpose, such as licensing fees or certain tax revenues that may only be used for the purposes designated by law. For example, property transfer tax revenues are dedicated to Program Open Space and other specific uses.
Spending Affordability Committee
- This joint legislative committee, with citizen members, annually reviews projected revenues and spending in the fall. It is charged with making nonbinding recommendations to the Governor on the budget, personnel, debt, and fiscal policy.
- Grants and other funding provided by the State government to assist cities, counties, public schools, and other allied groups in providing various services and programs to the citizens of Maryland.
- Enacted in 2007, StateStat is an accountability process that entails the adoption of a strategic plan and goals by an Executive Branch agency, the adoption of performance measurements, and regular and frequent reporting and review of agency performance in accountability meetings.
- When ongoing revenues do not meet or exceed ongoing spending, a fund is in a condition called a structural deficit.
- The lowest level of detail used in recording expenditures. For example, “office supplies” is a sub-object included in the object “supplies and materials.”
- Subprograms provide further delineation and transparency of agency spending. For example, the Aviation Division of the Department of State Police has its own subprogram so that budget oversight can be provided for the expenses related to Medevac and related services.
- Supplementary appropriation bills allow the General Assembly to create new appropriations, but only if the tax revenue necessary to pay for the appropriation is included in the bill.
- After the allowance has been submitted by the Governor in January each year, he/she can submit supplemental budgets at any time prior to enactment of the budget to correct errors or omissions. In practice, supplemental budgets introduce new spending or withdraw proposed appropriations as well. There is no limit to the number of supplemental budgets that can be introduced. They are attached to the back of the budget bill once both chambers of the General Assembly have read them across the desk.
- Because all regular authorized positions are fully funded in the budget, turnover expectancy is a negative adjustment that is included in the budget to recognize that not all positions are actually filled throughout the year due to resignations, separations, retirements, and the creation of new positions. Turnover is typically calculated as 3% to 5% of an agency’s salary, retirement, and unemployment compensation. Small agencies that often do not have many vacancies may have 0% turnover expectancy.
- Once a fiscal year starts, agencies can increase the legislative appropriation by budget amendment to reflect additional special or federal funds. The working appropriation reflects the estimated full-year spending adjusted for budget amendments that have been processed.