SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – An online simulation tool was launched Thursday that lets people decide for themselves how to balance California’s budget. “The California Budget Challenge” has been updated to reflect the cuts made in March and the governor’s May revision.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

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At a launch event at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club, more than 100 people heard where the state’s money comes from and where it goes. The group then tried its hand at making the same policy decisions being debated in Sacramento.

“We have reforms to state prisons, cuts to education, and cuts to the UC system as options for people to consider,” said Sarah Henry with Next 10, the non-partisan nonprofit organization that created the challenge. “We also have revenue increases for people to consider, such as extending the tax increases that were temporarily put into place in February 2009.”

Henry said that a recent poll found just 6 percent of Californians could name the state’s top revenue source, which is income tax, and top spending source, which is K-12 education.

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“We’re not trying to push one proposal over another, we really want to try to give them a comprehensive view of what the state budget looks like so that they can choose for themselves what they want to support,” said Henry.

Participant Martha Beattie said she was surprised at the complexity of the budget process.

“There are so many things that people don’t know, including me, who tries to keep up with things, about the budget and what’s going on,” said Beattie.

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