Glossary of Terms
STATE BIENNIAL BUDGET
A biennium is the time period for which the same numbers of the Legislature exists. For example, the 102nd Legislature will exist for two years, with the first session held in 2011, the second session in 2012. Although the State Constitution prohibits one Legislature from enacting appropriations that are binding on a future Legislature, the first session of the 102nd Legislature can bind the second session of the same 102nd Legislature. Therefore the 102nd Legislature, meeting in 2011, can enact appropriations for FY2011-2012 and FY2012-2013 without binding the 103rd Legislature. The biennial budget then is the sum of all appropriations made by the Legislature (both the first and second sessions) for these two succeeding fiscal years. These budgets as initially set in the 2011 session, can be revised and amended in subsequent legislative sessions, up until the end of a fiscal year.
The biennial budget can't be found in any single legislative bill. The phrase "the sum of all appropriations" was appropriately used as appropriations are contained in many different bills. What's referred to as the "mainline" budget bills are basically the appropriations to carry out the functions of state government as they exist at the beginning of a legislative session, and are normally contained in several different bills; legislator salaries, constitutional officer salaries, a main budget, and capital construction. New legislation enacted during a legislative session carries a companion appropriation bill if an appropriation is necessary to carry out the new law. This companion bill, referred to as an "A" bill, is a separate bill using the original bill number with the letter "A" following. In this manner, the appropriation to carry out the provisions of this legislation is only enacted if in fact the new legislation is enacted.
The time period for which appropriations are made is the state's fiscal year that runs from July 1st through June 30th of the following year. The fiscal year covering the period July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 is referred to as FY2010-11, FY10-11, or simply FY11. Within this 12-month period, agencies are limited to only those appropriations made for FY2011-12.
The State of Nebraska utilizes several different types of funds for appropriating and accounting for revenue sources. The budgetary fund types used by the State differ from those presented in the basic financial statements. The budgetary funds, which are listed below, are generally segregated by revenue sources. Of these seven fund types, only the first five are subject to the spending limits set by the appropriations bills. The General Fund is the only major fund that corresponds to a budgetary fund type, so the General Fund is the only major fund that has a budget. Therefore, most discussion on "balancing the budget" relates to the General Fund.
General Fund - Used to account for activities funded by general tax dollars, primarily sales and income taxes, and related expenditures and transfers. Part of the General Fund is the Cash Reserve Fund, which is used to account for cash held as a reserve ("rainy day" fund) for the General Fund, should the General Fund balance become insufficient to meet current obligations.
Cash Funds -- Used to account for the financing of goods or services provided by a State agency to individuals or entities outside State government on a cost-reimbursement basis, and to account for the revenues and expenditures related to highway construction. This excludes activities with the federal government, which are accounted for in federal funds. Unlike the single General Fund, there are more than 250 individual cash funds contained in 70 different agencies. In many instances, an agency has multiple cash funds.
Construction Funds - Used to account for the financial activities related to the acquisition or construction of major capital facilities.
Federal Funds - Used to account for the financial activities related to the receipt and disbursement of funds generated from the federal government as a result of grants or contracts, except for federal highway monies accounted for in the Cash Funds. Similar to cash funds, there are numerous individual federal funds contained in the accounting system and they are generally limited to specific uses as authorized by the federal program from which the funds came.
Revolving Funds - Used to account for the financing of goods or services provided by one state agency to another state agency on a cost-reimbursement basis. For example, an agency pays the State Building Division (SBD) for office rent in a state office building. The expenditure is charged against the agency's budget (be it General, Cash, or Federal) as rent expenses. This in essence double-counts an expenditure; once when an agency pays another for goods/services rendered, the second time when the receiving agency then pays for costs incurred in providing the goods or services. Like cash and federal funds, there are numerous individual revolving funds within the state system.
Trust Funds -- Used to account for assets held in a trustee capacity.
Distributive Funds - Used to account for assets held as an agent for individuals, private organizations, and other governments and/or other funds. Since by definition Distributive Fund receipts and disbursements are reported directly into asset or liability accounts, the Distributive Fund type is shown only on the Schedule of Assets, Liabilities, and Fund Equity.
Fund Sources - Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Fiscal Year ended 6-30-09 page 71 and Annual Budgetary Report, Fiscal Year ended 6-30-09 pages 4 and 5.
OPERATIONS, STATE AID, CONSTRUCTION
In this report, there are instances where appropriations by fund type are also broken down into three categories: operations, state aid, and capital construction. And within the "state aid" category, there are two kinds: state aid to individuals and state aid to local governments.
Agency Operations - accounts for the costs of actually operating state agencies including costs such as employee salaries and benefits, data processing, utilities, vehicle and equipment purchases, fuel and oil, etc...
Aid to Individuals - includes programs such as Medicaid, Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), child welfare services and student scholarships where state funds are provided for the direct benefit of an individual. This area also includes aid to quasi-government units, which are those local agencies that do not have the authority to levy property taxes. This would include entities such as area agencies on aging, mental health regions and developmental disability regions.
Aid to Local Governments - accounts for aid payments to local governments that have the authority to levy a property tax such as cities, counties, K-12 schools, community colleges, natural resource districts (NRD's), and educational services units (ESU's). This category includes programs such as state aid to schools (TEEOSA), special education, homestead exemption reimbursements and property tax relief through direct aid payments to cities, counties, NRD's, community colleges, and ESU's. State payments to fund part of the K-12 teacher retirement plan are not included under this category as those amounts are credited directly to the teacher retirement fund and are not checks written to school districts nor do those amounts show up as a school revenue or subsequent expenditure.
Capital Construction - includes costs for new construction and major repairs and renovation of state-owned facilities. The term "major" is used with respect to repair and renovations as relatively small or on-going projects are routinely done within agencies operating budgets. Highway and road construction and maintenance is not included in this category. This is included under cash fund agency operations.
Source: State of Nebraska Biennial Budget (2007 Session)