It took California’s legislature three long months of intense negotiations to resolve this year’s budget standoff. Now Californians can try their hand at solving the Golden State’s budget woes in just 15 minutes with the “California Budget Challenge.”

The California Budget Challenge is an easy-to-use nonpartisan online tool that simulates some of the tough choices our legislators face. The flash-based program leads users through choices on a variety of issues that affect the state’s finances, ranging from education to criminal justice. Users get to decide whether or not to raise income taxes, restructure Proposition 13, or expand health care coverage, among other choices. With each choice, a “budget meter” provides a running tally that shows the state’s budget gap growing or shrinking.

With the latest update, users will also get the opportunity to better understand May’s ballot measures. With each decision, users are presented with the option to learn more about the issues at hand and see whether they are closing or widening the state’s deficit. The Budget Challenge is one way that voters can educate themselves about the bigger picture of government in the Golden State.

At a time when California’s finances are an ever more pressing issue, it is essential that voters take the time to educate themselves about how the state brings in and spends money. Building a budget is about more than balancing the books. It’s about creating a government that reflects our values as a community. It’s about our vision for the future of the state. Take the time to ensure that you’re making choices that reflect your vision. Your children will thank you.