Do I have to complete the Backseat Budgeter all at once or will my selections be saved until I return to the simulation?
As you make each individual budget decision, click on “Save My Budget Decision” at the bottom of each page and your selections will be saved. To exit Backseat Budgeter and return at another time, select “Save My Budget” from the gray toolbar. You will be required to set up an account with us so we can store your budget. When you return to finish, select “See My Budget” from the gray toolbar and enter your email address – this will retrieve your previous budget decisions and load them into the simulation again.
How do I start over?
If you wish to start fresh, click “Reset” on the gray toolbar at the top of your screen.
May I modify my decision after one has been selected?
Yes. Modify one or more of your decisions by returning to the spending or revenue option and changing your selection.
What happens with my budget once I go through all the options?
Once you’ve finished, click on “I’m Finished!” and you’ll be taken to a menu where you can choose to see a report of your budget, see an aggregate report of everyone’s budgets, save your budget so you can return later, or discuss with others. Once enough people have completed the simulation, a report will be shared with the Governor and Legislators.
Does the Backseat Budgeter cover the entire state budget?
No. Colorado has a very complicated budget due to a number of fiscal provisions in the constitution. This version of the Budgeter focuses on Colorado’s General Fund—which is the major pool of money that the Governor and Legislators control and is essentially the state’s operating budget. Other funds include cash and federal funds.
What counts as balanced?
For the purposes of this simulation tool, the budget is considered to be balanced with spending and revenue are within 4% of each other. Over the course of the fiscal year actual expenses change and revenue collections don’t always turn out the same as projections. The point of the simulation is to understand the budget better and to communicate the priorities to policymakers.
Where do the dollar amounts come from for each of the spending categories?
The number for each spending category is the General Fund budget for that specific state department. For example, the budget option on health care refers to the General Fund budget of the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF). For a bibliographical list and links to state government websites, please see under “Help” on the gray toolbar at the top of your screen the “Methodology” page.
How were the options developed?
The options were developed in consultation with experts and advocates who have knowledge of the types of choices policymakers wrestle with each year. Some of the options are realistic and could be funded if it were the will of the Legislature and Governor. Others options, such as raising taxes, would take a vote of the people. For a bibliographical list and links to state government websites, please see under “Help” on the gray toolbar at the top of your screen the “Methodology” page.
How often is the Backseat Budgeter Updated?
The revenue side of the simulation is updated four times a year when new revenue forecasts are released by the state. Spending options are updated annually in August after the release of the allocation report.
What data sources were used to create the Backseat Budgeter?
Data came from a variety of individuals, the State of Colorado, and public policy organizations. For a bibliographical list and links to state government websites, please see under “Help” on the gray toolbar at the top of your screen the “Methodology” page.
Who are the authors of the Backseat Budgeter?
Backseat Budgeter is a public service tool created by Engaged Public in collaboration with Colorado State University and with funding from the Colorado Health Foundation. The simulation tool is designed to help citizens understand the tradeoffs associated with spending public dollars. It is offered as a community service at cost to any public entity wishing to educate and engage its constituents. Engaged Public is a firm specializing in the development of public policy strategies designed to educate and generate dialogue.