Massachusetts State Budget Process
Massachusetts’ fiscal year is July 1 – June 30. There’s something happening with the budget at just about every time of the year, but the targets for advocates to focus on is different at each stage of the process.
|Budget activity||Opportunities for advocacy|
|Fall: Departments and agencies submit their budget requests to the governor.||This is a good time to meet with Commissioners and Secretaries, asking them to fund particular programs. It is also a good time for you to communicate with the governor’s office about your priorities.|
|Early January: Governor proposes budget.|
|January-March: The House Committee on Ways and Means (HW&M) holds public hearings and drafts a budget proposal.||Emails, calls, and meetings with the Committee chair and committee members are most effective during this time, to ask for appropriate funding for your priorities.|
|April: HW&M releases its budget proposal to full House. Members offer amendments and debate the bill and amendments, and the full body votes each up or down.||Advocates should focus attention on getting representatives to sponsor and cosponsor amendments if funding in the proposed budget was insufficient, and then to support their inclusion in the final budget.|
|May: The Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SW&M) holds hearings and drafts a budget proposal.||Emails, calls, and meetings with the Committee chair and committee members are most effective during this time, to ask for appropriate funding for your priorities.|
|June: SW&M releases its budget proposal to full Senate. Members offer amendments and debate the bill and each amendment, and the full body votes each up or down.||Advocates should focus attention on getting senators to sponsor and cosponsor amendments if funding in the proposed budget was insufficient, and then to support their inclusion in the final budget.|
|June: A conference committee is formed to reconcile the Senate and House budgets and propose a joint budget for both chambers to vote on. This cannot be amended.||Letters to the conferees during this time can be effective, letting them know which of the two budgets (house or senate) best reflect the funding you’d like to see for your priorities.|
|By June 30: The governor signs, vetoes, or vetoes parts of the budget, and also suggests changes for the legislature to consider. This often comes down to the wire, or isn’t completed in time, and a short term budget is passed so that the state government can continue to function while the budget is being finalized.||After the conference committee sends their budget to the governor, calls and emails to the governors office expressing support for funding for your priorities are important.|
|Ongoing: If the legislature chooses to take up a vetoed item for an override vote, a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate can override the governor’s veto.|
|Throughout the fiscal year, as spending and revenues fluctuate, changes known as ‘supplemental budgets’ are introduced to accommodate the changing fiscal situation. As with the annual budget, both chambers and the governor must sign off on these items.|
At the same time, if revenue falls below expectations, the Governor is authorized to make cuts to most budget items.