Can You Balance California’s Budget? Here’s a Link to a Calculator Where You Can Try.

Here’s a link to the Los Angeles Times’ balanced budget calculator. It’s there that you can imagine yourself wielding the budget ax, raising taxes, or doing some combination of the two to bring California’s $28 billion deficit over the next 18 months to zero. One of the revelations to me is that cigarette and alcohol tax increases, combined with some broad budgetary belt-tightening, could solve a good deal of the problem. One thing the budget calculator makes vivid—at least to me—is that you cannot get to a balanced budget just by slashing programs. Or, to put it more accurately, you cannot do so without literally decimating highly desirable features of the state (such as the UC university system, which is itself an indirect engine of economic growth in the state, producing elite scientists, etc).

I wish such calculators were somehow incorporated into election ballots—allowing voters to at least express preferences at election time to their representatives. The calculators are themselves an education, demonstrating the complexity of the policy choices that politicians face.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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4 Responses to Can You Balance California’s Budget? Here’s a Link to a Calculator Where You Can Try.

  1. G says:

    Another bogus tool from the LA times. California’s revenue is ~$127B. This tool only allows you to cut a fraction of that. They are again proposing to rob from the schools. Keep the people poor and stupid so they don’t know any better.

    • santitafarella says:

      Your logic seems skewed to me. Why would a kabal of journalists and editors at the LA Times—people who love writing, reading, and thought, and have given their lives to it—conspire to skew public perceptions on the budget so as to take money away from schools, including colleges?


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