SAN FRANCISCO, June 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- California's budget conference committee is now working to reconcile the House and Senate approved versions of the California budget. The state's shift this year from indebted to balanced has put Governor Brown's budget, which supports a baseline level of spending for some social service programs, at odds with Democratic lawmakers, who would like to restore some funding to programs hit hard by recession-era cuts. California voters can join the debate on education spending, social service programs, paying down debt and more via the newly updated online California Budget Challenge (www.budgetchallenge.org). The Challenge puts the budget pen in the hands of voters, presenting users with dozens of spending and revenue choices and giving them a platform to share their priorities with elected officials and others.
Currently, Democratic lawmakers have presented a budget that is nearly $2 billion larger than Governor Brown's $96.4 billion proposal. State spending and revenues are more or less in balance, due in part to the passage of Prop 30 in November, which increased state revenues by raising income taxes on the wealthy and increasing the state sales tax. Even with new revenues flowing in, there are still outstanding questions about whether or not to restore program funding, how to address the $28 billion "wall of debt" that accumulated with recent borrowing, and what to do about the more than $100 billion in unfunded retirement liabilities for teachers and state workers.
"Debate and conversations about our budget priorities encourage a healthier democracy. Through the Budget Challenge, voters can engage with each other and even with top state leaders about the policies and programs they value and the levels of spending and taxation they'd like to see in California," said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10.
In the remaining days until June 15, the deadline for passing the budget, users can weigh in on this year's budget debate at www.budgetchallenge.org and share budget priorities with friends, family and state leaders via email, Twitter and Facebook. Since first launching in 2005, more than 340,000 Californians have taken the Challenge in classrooms, at budget town hall events, and in the privacy of their own homes.
Once California voters tackle the budget, they now have the option of also taking on the state's climate policies. The recently launched Next 10 California Carbon Challenge (www.cacarbonchallenge.org) lets users pick strategies to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The game presents users with more than two-dozen strategies - from developing transit-oriented housing plans, to pay-as-you-drive insurance, to boosting energy efficiency in buildings. The nonpartisan Carbon Challenge keeps track of the choices being made and their impacts via an interactive meter showing tons of carbon reduced and the costs or savings for those choices.
Need a colorful graphic/button to link to the new California Budget Challenge online? Contact Roxanna Smith at 510.326.0390.
Media interviews with Noel Perry of Next 10 may be arranged by contacting Cater Communications at 415.453.0430 (main office).
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.
Roxanna Smith, 510.326.0390
SOURCE Next 10