Engaged Public Releases New Colorado Backseat Budgeter Showing Voters School Finance and Marijuana Tax Impacts

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Easy online budget simulator launched in partnership with Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University helps Coloradans steer state budget and drive ballot decisions.

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The Backseat Budgeter helps put these initiatives in the context of the larger challenges facing our state so citizens can get involved and make their opinions known to elected officials. - Phyllis Resnick, lead economist, Colorado Futures Center at CSU.

Engaged Public®, a Denver-based public policy strategy firm, today announced a new release of the Colorado Backseat Budgeter®, an easy-to-use interactive online budget simulation tool that educates citizens on the tradeoffs involved in budgeting public dollars. Launched in partnership with the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University, the online tool displays the 2013-14 Colorado general fund budget and highlights the impact of two important issues on the November ballot: Amendment 66 (school finance reform) and Proposition AA (marijuana taxation).

“If you live in Colorado and care about how public dollars are generated and spent, the Colorado Backseat Budgeter is worth exploring so you can be an educated voter and citizen,” said Brenda Morrison, partner at Engaged Public. “The Backseat Budgeter breaks down the complexities of the state budget and upcoming ballot issues into a user-friendly tool that feels like an online game. It really helps demonstrate the tough choices facing our state.”

To use the public engagement tool, Coloradans can go online to Backseat Budgeter at http://www.backseatbudgeter.com and select under “Featured Budgets” the 2013-14 Colorado budget, set their own priorities, save their budget, view others’ budgets, and discuss ideas through online posts.

In addition to helping voters better understand the impact of upcoming ballot initiatives and gain a better understanding of the Colorado general fund budget, the new version of Backseat Budgeter also includes a section that considers the costs of the state’s disaster response to fire and flood damage, as well as a robust healthcare section that helps users examine the costs associated with Medicaid expansion.

“It’s easy to get lost in the data and complexities when studying ballot initiatives, the state budget and the cost of public policy initiatives,” said Phyllis Resnick, lead economist at the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University. “The Backseat Budgeter helps put these initiatives in the context of the larger challenges facing our state so citizens can get involved and make their opinions known to elected officials.”

Through interactive pie charts, users of the Colorado Backseat Budgeter can shift revenue and spending streams and make tough choices. The ultimate task is to balance their version of the budget without violating laws along the way.
To learn more about sponsorship or customization of Backseat Budgeter for any public budget in any location, visit EngagedPublic.com.

About Engaged Public:

Engaged Public is a Denver-based, boutique public engagement firm specializing in the development of strategies for better public policies. We work with civic leaders, public and private stakeholders, and the public to tackle complex public challenges head-on, using straightforward, collaborative and non-rhetorical dialogue to bridge the gap between people and the policies that impact their lives. We believe that public engagement is critical to solutions to complex public problems. Our approach considers what, when, and how to tap into the mindset of public opinion to create the most strategically sound and well-received policies. To learn more visit us at EngagedPublic.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

About the Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University:

The Colorado Futures Center at Colorado State University provides vital research and analysis of public policies impacting Colorado’s future and quality of life. The Center delivers independent, nonpartisan and academically grounded input on a broad range of issues related to the economic health of the state of Colorado. The Colorado Futures Center fits within CSU’s commitment to excellence, setting the standard for public research universities in teaching, research, service and extension for the benefit of the citizens of Colorado, the United States and the world. In support of that mission, the Colorado Futures Center produces research to help Colorado’s citizens and leaders make decisions that strengthen the state’s economy and quality of life.

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