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Where’s the Money?

The Massachusetts political climate always changes, but at the State House, one constant remains – the importance of the annual budget.

As the commonwealth’s leaders prepare the budget for Fiscal Year 2012 – which takes effect on July 1, 2011 – they face a projected $1.8 billion deficit. Like families across the state, legislators are grappling with how to make fiscal ends meet, debating ways to both cut costs and increase revenue.

Protect Vulnerable Residents

As we brace for significant reductions across the board, AARP urges legislators to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents by maintaining critical programs and services, including Prescription Advantage, the state’s pharmacy assistance program that works in tandem with Medicare Part D.

“Developing the state budget is a big job with huge consequences for all Massachusetts residents,” says Deborah Banda, AARP Massachusetts state director. “This year, billions of dollars are at stake along with the many programs and services – from health care to education to transportation – that the money funds.”

How the State Budget Becomes Law

The state fiscal year in Massachusetts runs from July 1 – June 30. Each year the state budget is prepared and approved. In addition, supplemental budgets are prepared during the year to deal with excess revenue or extenuating circumstances that require additional revenue.

Following is a basic run-down of the budget process:

  • Department requests (Fall)
  • Administration & Finance recommendations (late Fall)
  • Governor’s Budget (mid-January)
  • House Ways and Means Committee recommendations (March/April)
  • House debates and votes on their Final budget recommendations (April)
  • Senate Ways and Means Committee recommendations (May)
  • Senate debates and votes on their Final budget recommendations (May/June)
  • House/Senate Conference Committee established to work out differences in both Final budgets (June)
  • House votes on Conference Committee budget
  • Senate votes on Conference Committee budget
  • Final budget is sent to Governor for approval, amendment or veto (June)
  • Governor issues approvals, amendments or vetoes; he has 10 days (by July 1)
  • Final budget in place, without items that were amended or vetoed
  • House considers amendments vetoes (after July and until end of formal sessions)
  • Senate considers items that the House has overridden (after July and until end of formal sessions)
  • If both branches override Governor’s veto, the original language stands
  • Final budget in place

Make Your Voice Heard

Make your voice heard in the state legislative debate! Join the AARP Massachusetts Grassroots Network to stay up to date on important issues, including health care payment reform, prescription drugs, and long-term services and support. Send us an email at for more information.

Also, check our daily blog and breaking news for updates as they happen.