In summary

With California’s budget surplus and federal stimulus up to $100 billion, a game lets you decide how to spend it. Who and what get the money?

With $25 billion in federal stimulus en route and an estimated California budget surplus of $76 billion, per Gov. Gavin Newsom (the Legislative Analyst’s Office puts it around $38 billion), lawmakers are making bold plans to spend that cash down.

But suppose it were up to you: How would you spend California’s budget surplus?

Here’s a tool for theoretically doing just that. Rejigger the state’s tax and spending priorities to your liking. We’ve provided just a sampling of all the possibilities out there — let us know if there’s something we really should have included but didn’t.

Just remember: The state can’t run a deficit, so balance that budget before submitting your priorities and, when you do, you can compare your results with others!

Picking priorities

To change a budget priority, click on the option you like and a check mark will appear next to the chosen option. The surplus indicator at the top will also change.                            

Submitting your priorities

When you are ready to submit your priorities, click or tap the button at the bottom that reads, “Click to see how you compare to others.”

You’ll then be able to see how your priorities compare with other’s. You’ll also be able to go back and change your priorities around, then resubmit!                                

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$101 billion


Jump to specific budget priority

Money Coming In

Money Going Out

You cannot submit your budget priorities while you have a deficit! This may surprise you, but California’s budget must be balanced each year! So either cut spending or increase revenue to continue.

Submit your budget!

Share what your California budget looks like.

Thanks for submitting your budget priorities! Now take a look below at how your choices compared to other’s who also submitted their priorities.

Taxes & Fees


Change budget priorities

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John Osborn D’Agostino is an award-winning data journalist, web developer and game designer. Previously, he's worked with The Hechinger Report, EdSource, the East Bay Express, Berkeleyside, and the North...