With State Spending and Revenues in Balance for the First Time in a Decade, the Golden State Now Looks at Setting Priorities Updated online budget simulation asks should CA restore services, pay off the "wall of debt," or begin to tackle over $100 billion in long-term liabilities?

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in years, California's budget process will not be focused on solutions for closing massive budget shortfalls, but on critical decisions that will affect the state's future. Newly updated with policy choices and over a dozen nonpartisan videos explaining many of the different programs the state budget funds, the online California Budget Challenge (www.budgetchallenge.org) allows Californians to engage in the current budget debate and wield their own budget pens.

With voters passing Prop 30 and Prop 39 in November, state spending and revenues appear to be in balance for the first time in a decade. Many outstanding issues remain, including the recession-era cuts made to programs, the $28 billion "wall of debt" accumulated through recession-era borrowing, and over $100 billion in unfunded retirement liabilities for teachers and state workers. There is also a $10 billion deficit in the unemployment insurance fund to consider, fiscal uncertainty at the federal level, and rising health care costs.

"Despite the fact that state finances are headed in a more positive direction this year when compared to last year, there are still difficult budget choices to consider—choices that will impact us for years to come," said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10. "Temporary revenues coming in from Prop 30, combined with years of borrowing and deep cuts to state programs have brought the budget into balance. Californians must now consider what choices will improve our state's future, and prevent us from repeating the past."

The updated California Budget Challenge guides users through dozens of choices on state debt, spending, and revenues. After building their budget, users can decide if and how large of a rainy day fund that want to create. Users can engage directly with lawmakers by "Taking Action" on any policy option. The Budget Challenge was just updated with the newly drawn districts and email access to state elected officials. 

To weigh in on this year's budget debate, go to www.budgetchallenge.org and share your budget priorities with friends, family and state leaders via email, Twitter and Facebook.  Since first launching in 2005, more than 330,000 Californians have taken the Challenge in classrooms, at budget town hall events, and in the privacy of their own homes.

Next 10 is an independent, nonpartisan organization focused on innovation and the intersection of the economy, the environment, and quality of life issues for all Californians. Next 10 funds research by leading experts on complex state issues.

Contacts:

Christina Haro, 415.453.0430


Carina Daniels, 415.453.0430


Roxanna Smith, 510.326.0390

SOURCE Next 10



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