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Can you balance California's budget?

February 28, 2012 | 11:13 am

When it comes to spending taxpayer money, everyone in California thinks they can do better than the politicians they’ve elected.

Now Next 10, a nonpartisan policy organization based in San Francisco, has released an online simulator where residents can try their hand at balancing the state budget. Users decide how much to spend on education, prisons and healthcare, then they choose whether to raise or lower taxes. 

Gov. Jerry Brown has pegged the state's budget deficit at $9.2 billion, much smaller than last year's but still a significant obstacle.

Next 10 also released a poll saying 52% of voters surveyed want an equal mix of budget cuts and tax increases, and 71% said reduced state spending has directly affected their families.

“Californians know that budget decisions can have a profound impact on their everyday lives, but many lack the time and resources to track or influence the debate,” said F. Noel Perry, the venture capitalist who founded Next 10, in a statement.

A January poll from the Public Policy Institute of California showed that residents don’t understand the budget as well as they think they do.

More than half of people surveyed said they know a lot or some about state spending. But only 16% correctly identified the state’s single biggest expense: education. Instead, 47% chose prisons.

-- Chris Megerian

Twitter: @chrismegerian


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