Gov. Gregoire unveils budget calculator - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Interactive calculator lets users develop own state budget

Gov. Gregoire unveils budget calculator

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Chris Gregoire today announced the addition of an interactive budget calculator to her Web site, which will allow citizens the opportunity to develop a state budget.

"Closing our state's multi-billion dollar budget gap required making many tough decisions," Gregoire said. "This exercise gives people an important understanding of the difficult choices our state government must make when dollars are scarce."

The interactive tool will allow users to change spending levels in several policy areas until the budget gap is eliminated. As users click through the calculator, they're encouraged to keep an eye on the bottom line to see how their choices affect the budget.

"With this budget calculator, you may find different priorities among various programs," Gregoire said. "Your feedback is important. If you don't like a budget decision, I want to know how you will fix it. What would you sacrifice instead? The budget is a work in progress, and my proposal is the first step in a long process that will continue in the Legislature in the coming months."

After a user has created a balanced budget, the user can submit personal budget ideas to the governor.

Gregoire proposed her 2009-11 state budget last month, closing a projected $5.7 billion shortfall through a combination of program reductions, suspension of state employee, teacher and care worker salary increases, pension changes, increased federal contributions and use of the state's rainy day fund. Gregoire's proposed budget leaves a $508 million ending balance, which includes $100 million in the rainy day fund.

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