In summary

California is in position to spend a jaw-dropping surplus. Gov. Gavin Newsom has outlined his plans for the money, and the Legislature has ideas of its own. What are yours?

California, once again, is projected to have an astronomical surplus — $97.5 billion in total, but $49 billion of that up for grabs.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his budget priorities last week, describing how he would like to use that extra cash. But do you agree?

Suppose it were up to you: How would you spend California’s budget surplus? This is how you spent it last year. And here is how you spent it after the Governor’s budget was released in January.

Here’s a tool for theoretically doing just that. Rejigger the state’s general fund 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. Education, for example, is largely missing because it involves a whole lot of special funds beyond the general fund.

Just remember:

  • The Gann Limit, which constitutionally mandates how surplus money can be spent once its sizable enough, will gobble up about half of the projected surplus for education spending. That’s why you’re working with $49 billion instead of $97.5 billion.
  • You’re only messing around with “general fund” monies, so we’re not messing around with the large pool of Prop 98 funds that go toward K-12 education.

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, “Submit your surplus plan”.

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!                                

Back to top

$20.6 billion


Money Coming In (Revenue)

Money Going Out (Spending)

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.

Submit Your Plan!

$50 billion

Submit your surplus plan

A budget was submitted TKTKTK times.

Money Coming In (Revenue)

Money Going Out (Spending)

Share how you spent the surplus.

Change surplus priorities

Share your feedback on how to make this better

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We want to hear from you

Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact CalMatters with any commentary questions:

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...