Remember: you are largely being graded on the quality of your analysis and use of sources. This means that you will want to put things IN YOUR OWN WORDS and cite sources where appropriate. If you put in effort and avoid plagiarism you should be in decent shape.
BACKGROUND: Every year a key political issue in every state is the budget. If you are wondering what a “government budget” is, here’s a definition:
A government budget is a financial statement in which the government proposes how to spend its revenues (taxes) by prioritizing expenditures. State budgets are usually proposed by an elected legislature and must be signed by the executive (governor).
When a state legislature creates and passes a budget, they are revealing their values and priorities. Specifically, budgets indicate a state’s ideological perception on three things: 1) size of government; 2) government’s role in the economy, jobs, and welfare; 3) how much people should be taxed. It says ALL of that. Crazy, right?
PROCEDURES: Now that you have a little background on budgets, your task is to compare and contrast two state budgets: Texas and Massachusetts. You will conduct this analysis by doing the following:
First, look at your visuals: In the assignment folder you will find a PDF with two pie graphs. One is a budget for TX and the other for Massachusetts.
Written Section #1: Please number your responses to facilitate grading; your responses should be AT LEAST 150 words in length. These are worth 10 points total.
1. Describe what the graphs look like visually. Pretend that the reader is not able to see the graphs and give as much detail as possible. (3 points) (VL1)
2. What information are the graphs presenting? What are the graphs telling you about? Take the information that is presented visually and communicate it to the reader in written form. (3 points) (VL2)
3. What does the information in these graphs mean for the government of Texas versus the government of Massachusetts? How would the residents of each of the states be affected by the information presented in the graphs? (4 points) (VL3)
Next, select and read your sources: You must use AT LEAST two of the following sources to conduct your analysis. The first two support the TX model and the second two support the Massachusetts model. You must pick one that supports TX and one that supports Mass. You will use this information to help you answer the questions below.
Written Section #2: Please number your responses to facilitate grading; this section is worth 30 points (10 points each). Responses should be AT LEAST 250 words in length.
1) Compare the budget of the state of Texas and the budget of the state of Massachusetts. How are the states similar in how they spend money and how are the states different? How would you expect life to be different in Massachusetts compared to Texas based on how the governments spend their money? Base your arguments on the multiple sources provided and not your own “guess.” (CT 1 and CT2)
2) Life in Texas and Massachusetts can be very different, but that does not one inherently better than the other. Which one is better might depend on your definition of a “quality” life. What factors do you believe lead to high quality of life? How you rate different life factors can be your opinion, but the factors you use should be based on the sources. How do you think living in TX influences your perspective on what makes for a “quality” life? How do you think TX government spending influences your quality of life in general? (CT 3 and CT 4)
3) Looking back at spending by the states of Texas and Massachusetts, what would happen if each state changed its spending priorities? In other words, how would you expect changes in spending would harm or enhance the quality of life for Texans? How about for people in Massachusetts? Be sure to mention specific spending changes and base your argument on how you would define quality of life. (CT 5)