Try Your Luck at Balancing the State Budget with Colorado Backseat Budgeter, Developed by Colorado State University

Think you could do a better job balancing the Colorado state budget? Take a stab at it using the Colorado Backseat Budgeter, a fun tool developed by Colorado State University.

The Colorado State University Bighorn Leadership Development Program created the online tool to give everyone – not just policy makers – a chance to play governor for the day, taking a seat behind the budgeting wheel and planning their own version of the state budget.

To set your own state budget on Colorado Backseat Budgeter, go to: The website is still being updated with 2009-2010 data.

“The website started as a resource for our Bighorn graduates. We decided to allow the general public access to the tool to help citizens really understand the complexities of the state budget in a user friendly way,” said Lou Swanson, Vice Provost for Outreach and Strategic Partnerships at Colorado State.

Website visitors are presented with Colorado spending and revenue statistics and prompted with options to add or drop programs to raise taxes or rearrange spending categories to balance the budget. Each budget category offers an in-depth description of its purpose within the state budget and the impact it has on Colorado’s economy.

Backseat budgeters are faced with the same financial limitations as Colorado legislators when setting their budget and are required to follow constitutional laws like TABOR, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and Amendment 23, the required increase for spending on K-12 education.

Hot issues such as higher education and health care funding, and, increases for income taxes and sales taxes are all areas covered on the interactive website. Colorado Backseat Budgeter also provides a forum to engage users in discussions on these much debated topics.

Colorado Backseat Budgeter provides visitors with an interactive experience that showcases the importance of every dollar delegated within the Colorado state budget and prompts participants with the question, “What are your priorities for Colorado?”

The Bighorn Leadership Development Program was founded in 2001 as a non-partisan organization that gives participants the opportunity to develop tools they will need to run for public office, develop public policy or engage in community activism. The program has more than 300 graduates, many of whom have gone on to become Colorado legislators, city council members and leaders of community organizations.

In 2007, the Denver-based program moved under the Colorado State University Office of the Vice Provost for Outreach and Strategic Partnerships. For more information about the Program, go to