Try your hand at balancing state’s budget

Think you’re smarter than the folks under the dome in Denver? Try balancing the 2011-12 state budget from your own computer.

Backseat Budgeter is an online simulation tool that lets citizens balance a virtual Colorado budget. In addition to experimenting with a variety of funding and revenue scenarios, the most recent version allows residents to evaluate the potential impact of Prop. 103, a measure on the November ballot that would raise state income and sales taxes to fund education. (The tool will be updated to reflect the Nov. 1 outcome.)

Backseat Budgeter incorporates the same restrictions faced by state lawmakers, including constitutional amendments such as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and Amendment 23, which requires the state to maintain certain levels of K-12 education spending. If a Backseat Budgeter user “violates” one of these constitutional requirements or other laws, they are confronted with a flashing warning telling them that voters must approve their choice.

The Colorado version of Backseat Budgeter is a public service provided by the nonprofit Engaged Public in collaboration with Colorado State University’s Bighorn Leadership Development Program and funded by a grant from The Colorado Health Foundation.

The tool is available at www.backseatbudgeter.com.

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