The Budget of the State of Utah (BOTSU) is an annual report detailing budget actions taken during legislative sessions, providing the historical record for state appropriations made during each meeting of the legislature. BOTSU is an office-wide publication of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst (LFA), all subcommittee staff participate in writing the chapters for their respective subject areas and in reviewing and finalizing other chapters for accuracy and completeness. In LFA, this report is referred to as “BOTSU,” and whether that’s because the legislature will assign an acronym whenever possible or if it’s because in Japanese BOTSU translates to “death” — the world may never know.
BOTSU, also known as the Appropriations Report, is something that LFA takes pride in producing. While staff would not hesitate to draft, review, and publish this nearly 600-page report simply of their own volition, it furthers their fiscal-resolve that in doing so, staff fulfill a statutory requirement under the Budgetary Procedures Act to “prepare, after each session of the Legislature, a summary showing the effect of the final legislative program on the financial condition of the state,” (UCA 36-12-13).
This year’s report was not published without its own bumps in the road. The timing of the May special session forced the LFA to make a tough call: either wait to publish the report until after the budgetary actions of the special session could be incorporated (delaying the publication, in turn preventing a written summary on the state’s current financial condition from being readily available) or, print an initial version sans budgetary actions taken in the special session. LFA opted to go with the latter, allowing legislators and the public to reference the report as soon as possible. LFA is currently working on an update that would include budgetary changes approved by the Legislature during the 2023 First Special Session held on May 17, 2023. The revised report will be published later this summer, and any subsequent special sessions will be included in next year’s report.
Now onto the fun part, how to access BOTSU. While the report is mostly an and is currently available on the newly redesigned budget.utah.gov site – discussed in this recent blog post – under the Budget tab on the homepage. We do print physical copies for those interested in feeling the pages between their fingertips as they read about the intricacies of things like education spending within our state. If you would like a hard copy, contact the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst.
This report isn’t the kind of document that’s published and placed on a shelf to be immediately forgotten. Not only is this information relied on heavily by the legislature, but is also used broadly by state agencies, and referenced by financial institutions when determining the stability and financial condition of the state. With the large amount of customers referencing the report, LFA has formatted the online version with users in mind.
The PDF report is made to be easily parsed and is divided into chapters starting with a Statewide Summary, a brief overview into each subcommittee’s budget items, followed by chapters for each appropriations subcommittee. The “Guide to Tables” section at the beginning of the report was developed to help explain how the budget tables work together to provide a complete budget picture. The PDF report also includes bookmarks for each subject-area chapter and relevant budget tables, so users can easily jump to the section they need. The goal when working on this report is to provide an in-depth look into the state’s financial status, while also making it easy to read and understand.