Public Budgeting in America Advisory Research Proposal
Excerpt from Research Proposal :
In terms of similarities, each of these budgets contains roughly the same basic format. While the specific charts may differ, each budget separates revenue sources and attempts to break those down. The budgets also explain the expenditures, and typically break these down to each individual program within the department.
A similarity between three of the budgets (Federal, Florida and Newark) is that they rely heavily on tables and written explanations. While these tables are necessary in any budget, it is interesting to note that the Newark budget is significantly more visually-oriented than any of the other budgets. The graphic representation of some of the figures makes for a more user-friendly presentation. The other budgets are less likely to be understood by those without some financial training.
Each of the budgets is produced to unique specifications. There appears to be no standard with respect to the production of public budgets, so each government and each agency is free to produce a budget according to whichever criteria they feel best. This gives each entity control over the information that they wish to publicize as well, which could have transparency risks. This also makes it difficult to compare budgets across government entities. That each budget is unique from the others, however, allows for the information to be specific to that entity. Despite the issues with regards to comparability, this gives the relevant stakeholders in that entity the opportunity to receive information that more directly meets their needs. Unlike with corporations, there is little need for comparability between governments and agencies. It is more important that the citizens of each jurisdiction and the relevant stakeholders of each agency are able to understand the budget specific to their interests, and that is better accomplished by allowing each government and agency to produce budgets that have differing looks, feels, information and underlying assumptions.
One of the major differences between these budgets is with respect to their content. The amount of detail that each budget provides seems to roughly by inversely correlated with the size of the government in question. Thus, we see that the federal budget is short on specifics, whereas the City of Newark budget is highly detailed. Detail provides transparency in budgets, but more importantly smaller budgets require a greater depth of detail because each individual expenditure means more to the budget a whole. At the federal level, with budget items in the billions of dollars, payroll expenses are only a small portion of the total budget while at the civic level, where the budget items are in thousands of dollars, an item such as payroll is a major component of the budget. However, each federal agency has its own budget, where smaller budget items appear. The EPA budget is one component of the federal budget, and specific, detailed information can be found within the agency's budget.
Another difference with respect to these budgets is in the way that the budget is presented. The EPA budget is the most detailed in terms of breaking down changes to the previous years' budget, whereas some of the other budgets barely disclose any of that information. The EPA's budget and the City of Newark budget are also presented as a means of communication to those to whom the managers are responsible. The individual programs within the budget are explained in a manner that justifies their existence, which is not the case in either the Florida or Federal budgets. Those budgets are more matter of fact about the numbers. This difference reflects the differences in audience. The audience for the EPA budget includes a number of stakeholders who are responsible for scrutinizing public expenditures. Likewise, the City of Newark budget is targeted directly at the city's taxpayer base, indicating that the city's elected officials are directly responsible to the taxpayers. As the state and federal governments are less prone to direct oversight, those budgets are geared less towards program explanation and justification.
Another difference between the budgets is the time orientation. The federal budget begins with the current year and extends out a decade. The Florida budget includes this year and next. The Newark budget is focused on the immediate year. The EPA budget includes a substantial amount of historic budget data, something that is almost entirely absent from the other three budgets. The time orientation of each budget reflects the way that the administrators in question view the role of their budget. The Federal budget is the basis
for the nation's economy and has a significant impact on all Americans. Thus, it has the longest time orientation of all. The EPA budget looks backwards as if to show a trend in funding levels and implied results of different funding levels. The other two budgets show a time orientation mainly towards the present, indicating that the only concerns of genuine importance are the immediate ones.
Another difference in these budgets is the influence of macroeconomics on the budget. The federal government's budget and the Florida one as well provide charts for their underlying macroeconomic assumptions. The EPA and the Newark budget do not describe their macroeconomic assumptions. What this indicates is the role that the economic environment plays in each budget. The taxes that form a substantial portion of the income for the Federal and Florida governments - income, excise, sales -- are highly correlated with the health of the economy as a whole. While some of the revenue sources for the City of Newark, such as hotel taxes, are also correlated with macroeconomic indicators, much of their funding is not related to the economy. Property taxes, for example, are a function of property tax rates and assessed value of property. Thus, the degree of correlation with the state of the economy is lower. The EPA receives its funding from a variety of appropriations, which also means that its funding sources are not highly correlated with the economy.
Major Sources of Revenue
According to Table S-3, the federal government receives its revenue from a variety of taxation sources. The largest component of federal tax receipts are individual income taxes, which accounted for 45% of federal receipts in 2008. Other major sources of receipts for the federal government are corporate income taxes (12%), social security payroll taxes (26%), Medicare payroll taxes (7.6%), unemployment insurance (1.5%), excise taxes (2.6%), estate and gift taxes (1.1%), customs duties (1.1%), deposits of earnings from the Federal Reserve System (1.3%), and other miscellaneous receipts. In most years, this leaves the federal government with a budget deficit. The federal government must then issue debt in order to meet this deficit. Some debt can be issued in domestic capital markets, but most is issued to major institutional investors around the world.
The State of Florida derives its revenue from a variety of tax sources. Far and away the largest source is the state sales tax, which accounts for 78% of receipts. The other taxes are the beverage tax & licenses, corporate income tax, documentary stamp tax, tobacco taxes, insurance premiums tax, pari-mutuels tax, intangibles tax, estate tax and severance tax. In addition, the state collects revenue from a range of fees. These include public safety licenses and fees, medical and hospital fees, auto title and lien fees, service charges and others. The state also earns interest on investment holdings.
The City of Newark has two major classes of revenues. The first are revenues that the city generates internally. The second class consists of funds that are dispersed to the city from other governments or agencies. The first category includes a wide range off taxes and fees, including property taxes, payments-in-lieu, payroll tax, parking lot receipts, hotel tax, fines, interest income from investments, rent from city-owned property, taxicab licenses, restaurant licenses and miscellaneous revenues. There are a variety of fees including those for vital statistics, police fees, electrical permits, plumbing permits, parking meters, tax searches, fire fees, building permits and franchise-cable fees.
The second category consists of funds dispersed to the city by other governments and agencies. These include the energy receipt tax, consolidated municipal tax relief aid, the building aid allowance for schools and fees from the host municipality agreement with the port authority. The city accepts private grants for specific projects. The state of New Jersey finances some city-run programs such as the child and adult food program. Various other federal and state agencies, as well as Essex County, provide project-specific funding to be administered by the city. The New Jersey Department of Health and Department of Labor are particularly large contributors to the city's budget.
The Environmental Protection Agency receives its funding through a wide range of appropriations. Almost all of the funding for the EPA originates with the federal government. The EPA budget for 2010 is $10.486 billion and their request for 2010 as recorded in the federal government's budget is $10.5, indicating that the EPA is solely reliant on the federal government for its funding. There are eight appropriations…
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