School of Public Affairs and Administration
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Campus at Newark
111 Washington Street Newark, NJ 07102-1801
Spring Semester 2016
Course Syllabus – Subject to Change
Course Title: Public Budgeting Systems (Online)
Course Number: 20:834:542-90
Professor: Alexander Sitts, MPA
Email Address: [email protected]
Course Description:
This course provides an overview of budgeting & related financial management issues in the public
sector. The material will focus on the national, state and local levels of governmental budgeting in
the United States. We will pay particular attention to the methods by which financial decisions are
reached within a governmental system as well as the ways in which different types of information are
used in budgetary decision-making.
Learning Objectives:
Upon completion of Public Budgeting Systems, students will develop an understanding of the
budgeting processes in government. With an appreciation for the fundamental concepts of
government finance, students will learn how to evaluate the various sources of governmental
revenues and expenditures. The students will also be exposed to a comprehensive framework on how
to finance capital projects. Ultimately, the students will gain the ability to be able to identify the
information necessary to make the best budgetary decisions.
School of Public Affairs and Administration Student Learning Outcomes:
To be able to lead and manage in public governance
To participate in and contribute to the public policy process
To analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
To articulate and apply a public service perspective
To communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and
Learning Format:
Public Budgeting Systems is an online course at
The professor will concurrently serve as a guide, a facilitator, and a teacher during the course
discussions. If you encounter any technical problems accessing Blackboard you should contact the
Help Desk in Hill Hall, Room 109. The phone number is (973) 353 –5083, and the email address is
[email protected]
Required Textbooks:
Public Budgeting Systems, 8th edition, Lee, Johnson and Joyce (in the course outline noted as
“Memos to the Governor—An Introduction to State Budgeting,” 2nd edition, Dall Forsythe
Course Requirements and Grading:
Evaluation will be based on Blackboard participation, a Midterm Paper, and a Final Memo Paper.
The components of the final grade are the following:
Blackboard Discussions on the Textbooks - 30%
Two (2) Mini Papers – 15%
Midterm Paper - 25%
Final Paper - 30%
Details for the Blackboard discussions, Mini Papers, a Midterm Paper, and the Final Memo Paper
will be provided on the Blackboard site during the semester.
Grading Scale: Final grades will be assigned according to the following scale:
A = 90 – 100
B+ = 85 – 89
B = 80 – 84
C+ = 75 – 79
C = 70 – 74
F = < 70
Class Policies:
Syllabus – This syllabus serves as a general outline. The instructor reserves the right to
deviate from any part of the syllabus as necessary. Students will be notified of any such
Late Assignments – Submitting the required assignments is a prerequisite for this class. As
such, late assignments will be applied a penalty, namely 10% of the assignment for each day
between the due date and the submission date.
All written assignments should use the APA Style Manual for citation of sources.
Rutgers University Libraries:
Many library resources are available online. Assistance is available through phone, email, and chat.
Information about the library can be found here:
Rutgers SPAA Graduate Writing Center
The Rutgers SPAA Graduate Writing Center provides focused help to SPAA graduate students
preparing for leadership roles in government and in nonprofit agencies. The center’s staff assists
students in conceptualizing and organizing term papers and other written assignments, as well as with
the nuts-and-bolts of writing them. Its services include tutoring, small-group workshops, and referrals
to editors when more intensive help is needed.
Serving Students with Disabilities:
Rutgers University welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University’s educational
programs. In order receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability
must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially
enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: If the documentation
supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will
provide you with a Letter of Accommodations. Please share this letter with your instructors and
discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible.
Academic Integrity:
Students at Rutgers University are expected to maintain the highest ethical standards. The
consequences of academic dishonesty, including cheating and plagiarism, are very serious. Rutgers’
academic integrity policy is at When you submit an exam or
assignment, you need to abide by the honor pledge of “On my honor, I have neither received nor
given any unauthorized assistance on this examination/assignment.”
Psychological and Counseling Services:
If you experience psychological or other difficulties as a result of this course, or because of other
issues that may interfere with your performance in the course, please contact the University’s
Psychological and Counseling Service Center (; 973-3535805), which is located in Blumenthal Hall, Room 101. The Center offers a variety of free,
confidential services to part-time and fulltime students who are enrolled at Rutgers.
Schedule of Assignments
Class 1
LJ&J: Chapters 1 and 2
Governor Christie’s 2016 State Budget Address
The fundamentals of budgeting and public finance.
Class 2
LJ&J: Chapters 3, 6 & 7
New Jersey Budget Summary
Overview of Budgeting – Spending Side
Class 3
LJ&J: Chapters 8 and 9.
Budgeting – Spending Side (Part2)
Class 4
Forsythe – the entire book
Guidebook for understanding the technical, economic, and political dynamics of budget making.
Class 5
LJ&J: Chapter 10
Budgeting – Spending Side (Part 3)
Class 6
Telling it like it is - Article
Legislators demand more cuts before addressing revenue – Article
Class 7
Midterm Paper
Class 8
JL&L: Chapter 4
Budgeting – Revenue and Taxes
Class 9
JL&L: Chapter 5
Budgeting – Revenue and Taxes (Part 2)
Class 10
LJ&J: Chapter 12 & 13
Capital Planning and Budgeting
Class 11
LJ&J: Chapter 14
Federal Grants to State and Local Governments Article
Intergovernmental Issues
Class 12
LJ&J: Chapter 15
Government, the Economy and Economic Development
Class 13
Governor Christie’s 2017 State Budget Address
Class 14
Final Memo Paper