State Budget Process

The Annual State House Budget Process

Each year in Massachusetts we come together to decide how we will spend tax revenues in the next year. Budgets are a representation of our collective priorities and developing a spending plan requires participation from all of us. It can feel redundant having to make the same ask year after year, yet the budget process is a necessary and excellent opportunity for us to tell our stories about the importance of arts and creativity in our communities. 

Many sectors and groups are deserving of public investment; however, with limited funds lawmakers have to make tough financial choices. Lawmakers look to their constituents to help them consider what programs and agencies will have the most impact in their district. This is why regular personal communication with your Senator and Representative is crucial to increasing public investment in the creative community. 

Maintaining--and even increasing--public investment in the creative community requires constant and broad grassroots activism from now until the end of summer when the budget is passed. 

Below is a timeline of how the budget is put together. We’ve included points along the way where your participation and voice is needed most. We invite you to join arts and cultural advocates across the Commonwealth who each year share their stories and ask their elected officials to prioritize arts, culture, and creativity. 

December - Developing the Governor’s Budget

During the month of December, the office of the Governor is hard at work developing a spending plan that will eventually become the Governor’s Budget. Many factors are taken into consideration including tax revenue forecasts, existing spending commitments and larger national economic trends.

This is a great time to share your story about the impact of the creative community to the Executive branch. 

January - The Governor’s Budget

By the fourth Wednesday of January, the Governor must deliver his budget recommendations to the House of Representatives. This marks the official kickoff of the budget process.

February and March - Budget and public hearings

Following the release of the Governor’s budget in January, the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means begin to put together their respective budgets that reflect the priorities and vision of each chamber.

Public Hearings allow the Ways and Means committees the opportunity to hear from the public about what agencies and programs are most important to them. They also hear from fellow lawmakers on what they most want to see included in the budget. With 200 members representing every corner of the Commonwealth, distilling these various priorities takes a long time. Many advocacy groups, advocates, and organizations plan days at the State House to make sure their issues are being considered in the budget.

Mid April - The House Budget

Once the House Ways and Means Committee reports on the budget bill favorably, it is sent to the full House. This is a particularly important moment--and one where MASSCreative especially needs your help.

Members of the House can offer amendments to the budget which include specific increases for state agencies and programs. The creative community is fortunate to have co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development who usually offer an amendment for an increase in the Mass Cultural Council budget in both the House and the Senate. This session the co-chairs are Senator Edward J Kennedy (Lowell) and Representative Carole Fiola (Fall River)

Once a Representative offers an amendment, members of the House can sign on as co-sponsors to show their support for a specific spending area or priority. The more co-sponsors it gets, the more support that particular spending priority has. 

For the last eight years, MASSCreative has worked with partner arts advocates and member organizations to reach out and ask members of the House to sign on a co-sponsor of amendments to increase the Mass Cultural Council budget. The more calls, emails, and meetings a representative receives regarding an amendment, the higher the chances are they will sign on as a co-sponsor. 

This is a great time to reach out and remind your Representative that arts and creativity matter to you.

Join our mailing list and receive action alerts that connect you with your Representative when it matters most

A final version of the House budget, that includes many of the filed amendments is voted on and sent to the Senate--where the process begins again.

Mid May - The Senate Budget

Like the House, the Senate Ways and Mean Committee has the opportunity to develop their own budget. And like the House, the Senate debates amendments to the budget offered by Senators. Senators also seek co-sponsors to support their amendments. This is followed by a final vote on the budget.

Like the House Budget, Senators need to hear from you on why public investment in the creative community matters and encourage them to sign on to any amendments.

June - Reconciling the budget(s)

Following the passage of the Senate budget, a committee known as the Conference Committee is convened to create a single budget reflective of the House and Senate versions. The Conference Committee includes members of both the House and the Senate. Once the Committee has reconciled the two versions of the budget they release a Committee Report that is presented to the House and Senate for a vote.

June (continued) - Vetoes and Overrides

Following the House and Senate passage of the budget the Governor has 10 days to review the new version. The Governor can then sign the budget into law, veto the budget, or make line item vetos. The line item veto means the Governor can specifically reduce the amount of a particular budget item.

However, the budget isn’t finished yet! The House and the Senate can choose to override any or all of the Governor's vetoes. Any veto override requires 2/3 of both the House and the Senate. Once all the overrides are voted on the budget is final!

This is another moment where lawmakers need to hear from you about the value of arts, culture and creativity.

Join our mailing list for easy ways to connect and advocate.

July - Thanking our champions

The fiscal year officially begins July 1st. After many months of work advocating for the budget, lawmakers turn their attention to other legislation, but their efforts on behalf of the creative community should not go unacknowledged. Regardless of the final budget amount for the Mass Cultural Council, July is a good time to reach out to thank your legislators for their work and efforts.


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published this page in State Arts Funding 2022-01-26 14:56:07 -0500

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