Erin Treadwell is CSAC’s Communication Coordinator.  For more, visit The County Voice.

Next 10 has released its annual Budget Challenge exercise.  Since 2005, they have had a website where, with just a few clicks, you can consider a variety of options for cutting spending and raising revenues; essentially crafting your own version of the State Budget.

Always game for these sorts of things, I gave it a try and ran right into a few hard truths about myself.

  • I quickly jettisoned a “good for the many” approach.  On any option that could directly impact me and mine, I made selections rooted on where I am as a taxpayer, parent of elementary school children, spouse of a government employee, homeowner etc.  Don’t cut me here, but you can slash and burn over there.
  • I then went straight for a tax anything or anyone that earns more than me or indulges in a vice I choose to forgo (at least at this point in my life).
  • Where I could be magnanimous, I tried to be generous to make up for my very selfish choices.

The end result, I still had a 5 billion dollar deficit and a decidedly reduced sense of smugness.  Granted I was making choices based on personal values and need, and did not have a layer of politics to wade through. Still, it gave me pause.

The Governor and Legislators from both sides of the aisle have been taken to task, as they should, for this wicked mess of a budget. Yet after a few minutes of making hard choices, even though it was a game, I got a glimpse of the emotional gymnastics elected officials must undertake during negotiations; and I felt a bit of empathy.

Paging Solomon, King Solomon to the Capitol please.

Interested in trying it yourself?  Visit the Next 10 web site.