California Budget: Think You Can Do Better?

F. Noel Perry

Founder of Next 10, an independent, nonpartisan organization that educates, engages, and empowers Californians to improve the state’s future. Next 10 funds research by leading experts on complex state issues.


Newly
elected Governor Jerry Brown took office on January 3, 2011 and inherited a
$25.4 billion budget deficit. He quickly went to work proposing a budget that
balances revenues and cuts with a combination of tax extensions and cuts to
health and human services programs and higher education.

Californians
are aware that there are some big issues at stake including a proposal to
realign certain services from the state to counties and a proposal to eliminate
redevelopment agencies, but few understand the complicated specifics that may
have a very real impact on their lives.

The
nonpartisan California
Budget Challenge
is an easy-to-use online tool that simulates some of the
tough choices our legislators are facing. In addition to questions about
education spending and income tax, users now have the opportunity to weigh in
on topical proposals such as redevelopment, pensions, and extending the
temporary tax increases that were set to expire this year to fund the
realignment proposal and prevent deeper cuts. 
With each choice, users are given the option to learn more about the
issues and to see how their decisions are closing or widening the state’s
deficit with a "budget meter." Once users have completed their own budget, they have the option to send
it along to their legislators and let them know how they think the state should
be run.

This tool was created by Next 10, the independent,
nonpartisan organization I founded eight years ago that educates, engages, and
empowers Californians to improve our state’s future. Next 10’s goal with the
California Budget Challenge is to educate Californians about the budget process,
some of the proposals being made, and the impact that decisions made in
Sacramento will have on the state. 

While the options presented on our website only reflect the
current proposals on the table in Sacramento, we believe that a well-informed
populace can help to hold our legislators accountable and make choices and
budget proposals that reflect what Californians value. We encourage people to
engage with this tool and educate themselves about the budget for the sake of
our future.

Perry is the founder of the San
Francisco-based Next 10, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.
Since its debut in 2005, more than 250,000 people have used the
California Budget Challenge.

Next
10’s California Budget Challenge is available at www.budgetchallenge.org.

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