In Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's FY08 budget, which was released today, one of the watchwords is certainly consolidation.
The Governor is proposing broad consolidation of funding for the courts and for higher education. Until now, each district court, superior court, community college, and state college received its own line-item in the Massachusetts state budget. Now, over 100 line-items for different courts would be consolidated into a single line-item - the Chief Justice for Administration and Management. Likewise, nine state college line-items are proposed to be consolidated into one "Massachusetts State College Account" and fifteen community college line-items would be consolidated into a single "Massachusetts Community College Account."
The existing manner of budgeting is geared more toward the needs and prerogatives of the legislative branch than towards those of the executive. By specifying individual courts and colleges in the state budget, legislators are able to exert significant influence over these local institutions and to gain political credit in their communities. For this reason, it would be very surprising to see these consolidations survive the legislative budget process. If they do, it will require some "quid pro quos" on the part of the Patrick administration. It will be interesting to see what these might be.