Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Make a year-end gift to NHPR!

Playing California's Budget Game

California's record $35-billion budget deficit is anything but a game, but a Sacramento Bee columnist has made it one. The paper's Daniel Weintraub challenged his readers to study where the money goes, and then plug their proposed spending cuts and tax increases into an online budget game.

As NPR's Andy Bowers reports for Morning Edition, Weintraub developed a kind of printed and online parlor game that walks players through what state programs do, and how much they cost. It also shows how California general fund spending has jumped by one third since 1998. Weintraub says people often ask him why the state just can't roll spending back to that earlier figure.

The game is designed to show why it's not easy to balance the budget. But that didn't stop some players from coming up with some novel solutions. One suggested legalizing prostitution and gambling, then "taxing both those activities to the hilt," Weintraub says.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Andy Bowers
Andy Bowers oversees Slate's collaboration with NPR?s daytime news magazine, Day to Day. He helps produce the work of Slate's writers for radio, and can also be heard on the program.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.