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AARP AARP States Advocacy

How the State Budget Works

Every year, mid-January heralds ‘budget season’ on Beacon Hill.  Until the end of the season in June, the majority of time is spent crafting, debating, and finalizing the operating budget for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The budget signifies the intent of lawmakers, and has a profound effect on the programs and services important to Bay State seniors and their families.

How the budget works

The Massachusetts government is funded on a Fiscal Year (FY) basis with the upcoming FY 2014 running from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

The commonwealth’s budget allocates state funding for the state government, cities and towns. By law, the budget must be:

  • balanced;
  • passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate; and
  • signed by the Governor.

Why is it important?

Contained within the budget are many of the programs and services towns -- and residents -- rely on every day, including:

Home & Community Based Services, Councils on Aging, Elder Protective Services, and more.

The process:

January: the Governor submits a budget, usually by mid-month.

 February – March: The legislative Ways and Means Committees review the Governor’s proposal with top administration officials and other interested parties in a series of hearings..

 April: Mid-month, the House of Representatives releases and debates its own version of the budget.

 May: The Senate follows suit.

 June: After each branch has adopted its version of the budget, a joint Senate-House Conference Committee resolves the differences between the versions. Following this stage, the full Legislature votes to approve or disapprove the budget bill; upon approval, the bill is sent to the Governor for approval or disapproval.

The Governor may sign the bill or veto line items or entire sections. If vetoed, the Legislature has the final say whether to keep them or override them with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

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How you can make a difference

Sign-up for weekly advocacy updates by emailing or take action on the Home Care Waiting List, Councils on Aging, or Elder Protective Services.

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