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 2011—which takes effect on July 1, 2010—they face an economy still in crisis. 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
The Bay State’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget may be one of the grimmest in decades. Legislators face shrinking revenues and less federal funding; at the same time, due to last year’s budget reductions, important programs that serve the most vulnerable residents are already operating at bare-bones levels. For example, 40,000 seniors are already struggling to afford the medication that keeps them healthy and out of more expensive care because of cut after cut to Prescription Advantage, the state’s pharmacy assistance program. At the same time, slashes to Home Care funding have resulted in waiting lists for care across Massachusetts; these lists are forecast to top 5,000 persons this year.
“Elder services have been pared and pared again, leaving too many older persons at risk,” says Deborah Banda, AARP Massachusetts state director. “AARP urges the Legislature to take steps to restore benefits for those most in need by reversing budget cuts that have crippled Prescription Advantage, reduced funding for protective services and other critical programs, and caused waiting lists for home care.”
As we all face unprecedented economic struggles, AARP will continue to work hard on Beacon Hill to protect the most vulnerable and maintain the programs and services they count on, including:
- Prescription Advantage—the state’s pharmacy assistance program works in tandem with Medicare Part D.
- Home Care—services that keep seniors in their home and out of more expensive institutional care.
- Protective Services—including the Massachusetts Money Management Program cosponsored by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Mass Home Care and the AARP Foundation.
How the State Budget Becomes Law
The state fiscal year in Massachusetts runs from July 1—June 30th. 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
Become an AARP e-advocate. Help make sure elder programs and services are protected during the state budget debate. To learn more, send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org.