By Tom Benner

Democracy works best when people participate in their government; and people participate best when they can get the information they need to weigh in with opinions and evaluate the decisions made by those elected to represent us.

It’s that time of year now when Massachusetts is working on a new state budget. No piece of state legislation has a bigger impact on our everyday life -- from schools and roads, to public health, police and fire protection, and parks and recreation. The budget is how we as a Commonwealth express not just what we want to accomplish through government, but also how to pay for it.

State budget documents are not known for being “easy reads.” But understanding the Massachusetts state budget has just gotten easier, with a new online, interactive tool you can use to explore the state budget and see how and where money is allocated. The Budget Browser, found at, is part of our work at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center to help citizens of the Commonwealth better determine whether the state budget meets public needs and priorities.

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