Go make your own state budget

Everyone’s on pins and needles to see just how ugly the cuts will be in the May Budget Revision that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will release tomorrow, but East Bay residents have a shot tonight at solving the budget crisis themselves.

In simulation, of course. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will be joined by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, as she hosts a workshop letting constituents use the “California Budget Challenge” online tool, developed by the nonpartisan nonprofit Next 10, to try to find a solution to our budget crisis. The simulation contains accurate figures for the state’s current revenues and expenditures as well as alternatives so that participants can make their own choices.

“I am concerned about how the economic crisis is affecting families, businesses, folks looking for work, and those that depend on state services,” Skinner said in her news release announcing the event. “Cuts like those the Governor is proposing could decimate the state and cause even more job loss. While we can’t risk bankruptcy we have to be smart. So I am inviting the people of AD 14 to let me know how they would balance the budget by taking ‘The Budget Challenge.’”

Frank Russo, Skinner’s chief of staff, was at an event I attended last Friday, and said he’s not aware of anyone having found a viable cuts-only solution.

Tonight’s event runs 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Albany High School, 603 Key Route Blvd. Another is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 27 in the Orinda Library Theater, 26 Orinda Way.

Perez on Tuesday praised Next 10-enabled budget forums that had been held in Fresno, Orange County, Palm Springs, Reseda, Sacramento and San Diego, which attracted a total of about 2,000 Californians. “The public recognizes the difficulty that exists in getting a two thirds majority and they are very frustrated with the choices before them.”

John PerezHe vowed that this year’s budget will be developed on-time through a public process, not in closed-door meetings of the “Big 5.”

“We will develop the budget through a public process that includes full subcommittee and committee review,” he said in his news release, noting Assembly budget hearings – as well as other committee hearings dealing with the impact of the governor’s budget on California jobs – will be webcast live to facilitate transparency and foster public participation.

So – plenty of chances to watch the sausage being made this summer. Will you tune in?

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Mike F.

    The Next 10 website is a farce. Forces certain options all with a slant toward increasing taxes and pushing the “green” initiatives. They call this organization “non-partisan” – think again.