Each year, our office publishes the California Spending Plan that summarizes the annual state budget. Below, we present an interactive graphic that helps the reader visualize how the state budget spent $167 billion in total state revenues. (We exclude money from the federal government and from bond issuances in order to focus on state revenues.)
Spending in the budget is color coded by program area. You can hover over each box and view a brief description about major state programs. Clicking a box will zoom into a view of a single program area.
The drop-down menu allows the user to switch between two views—General Fund and General Fund + Special Funds. The General Fund is the state's main operating account where most state tax revenues are deposited. You can think of it as being similar to a general purpose checking account that a household uses to pay its bills. This year's budget allocated $122.5 billion in General Fund spending.
Special funds, on the other hand, are state accounts dedicated for specific purposes. A special fund is like a special checking accounts that some households use to dedicate income to pay certain expenses, for example a mortgage payment or utility bill. This year's budget allocated $44.6 billion in special fund spending.
Bottom line: The General Fund view shows the user how the state spends its tax revenues over which the state has relative discretion, while the General Fund + Special Funds view arguably provides a more comprehensive look at total state spending in the budget.