Journalists Game State Budgets to Help Citizens Understand Legislators? Dilemma

By: Adam Hochberg | Poynter.org

I just spent an entire morning sitting in front of my computer playing online games.

By the time I was done, I had furloughed 15,500 Colorado state employees, released 2,561 Oregon prison inmates, imposed a tax on soft drinks in Ohio, and eliminated state funding for California’s county fairs.

The games I played were interactive budget simulators. They allowed me to put myself in the role of governors and legislators in states that are bleeding red ink. As I worked my way through each exercise, I was presented with lists of possible spending cuts and revenue increases. My goal was to balance each state’s budget while minimizing the pain upon its citizens.

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