- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - The lengthy process of crafting the state’s annual budget in Massachusetts is beginning anew on Beacon Hill.

The House and Senate Ways and Means Committees are scheduled to hear from fiscal and economic experts on Monday as lawmakers try to determine how much tax revenue the state should anticipate collecting in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Why is that important?

The consensus revenue estimate - as it is officially known - forms the basis for how much the state can spend on programs ranging from education to transportation to health care. And if the estimate is wrong it can cause big problems.

Twice in the past year alone state officials have been forced to revise those projections downward, leading to cuts in the approximately $40 billion state budget.

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