Friday, September 24, 2010

Smarter than our state lawmakers? Prove it

Posted By on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Hey everyone, I have a new favorite toy.

It's called the backseat budgeter and it is SO COOL. Basically, it's a free online program that allows you to create your own budget for the state.

Ever heard about a state budget decision and uttered the words, "YOU IDIOTS! I could do this better with one hand tied behind my back!"?

I know you have. Anyone who reads the news has. That's why you're going to love this site.

Anyways, the even cooler thing about this tool is that it assumes that Amendment 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 have passed. As most of you news watchers know, 60, 61 and 101 would decimate funding for the state budget. Since you pay close attention, you also know that the state budget is pretty screwed anyways what with the recession and TABOR and all. (What I'm trying to tell you is that you'll start out with a big stinking deficit when you start making your own state budget and you're supposed to fix that.)

Once you begin, you will be led through different categories, like education and transportation, and you'll be asked to decide how much money you'd spend on each. Basically, you're making value judgments. Warning: It's pretty hard to balance the budget unless you're really willing to throw out a lot of things most of us care about. But have fun anyway. You can link to it here.

The tool was created by Engaged Public.

Here's some background:

Engaged Public is a firm specializing in the development of public policy strategies designed to educate and generate dialogue.

Introduced in 2008, Backseat Budgeter® is the brainchild of Engaged Public founders, Brenda Morrison and Chris Adams who wanted to create an experiential tool to educate and inform citizens about the Colorado state budget. Backseat Budgeter was originally intended for use in the Bighorn Leadership Development Program, (presented by Engaged Public in collaboration with Colorado State University), but during the severe budget cuts of 2009, the tool was offered to the general public as a community service.

In 2010 The Colorado Health Foundation provided funding to update Backseat Budgeter and to include the simulated effects of fiscal initiatives that will be on the November 2010 ballot.

In keeping with Engaged Public’s commitment to civic engagement and community service, the Backseat Budgeter simulation tool is available to other public entities who wish to engage their constituents in their budgeting process. If you are interested in learning more about how to use Backseat Budgeter for your public budget (state, city, county, school district, etc.) please contact us.

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