Engaged Public, Colorado State University Team with South Metro Denver Chamber on Backseat Budgeter Event Oct. 26

Note to Reporters: Space is limited, so reporters interested in attending the event should contact Emily Wilmsen no later than Oct. 25.

Colorado State University, Engaged Public and other partners will host an innovative and interactive educational session at the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce that puts residents in control of a virtual state budget.

The event will be 7:30-9 a.m. on Oct. 26 at the chamber’s offices in The Streets at Southglenn, 2154 E. Commons Ave., Suite 342, Centennial. Space is limited, so registration is required at http://wsnet.colostate.edu/cwis37/www/graphics/external-emails/bsb/invite-2011.html.

Backseat Budgeter is an online budget simulation tool that enables Coloradans to try their hand at balancing the 2011-2012 state budget. In addition to experimenting with a variety of funding and revenue scenarios for the state budget, the most recent version of Backseat Budgeter allows residents to evaluate the potential impact of Proposition 103, a measure on the November ballot that would raise state income and sales taxes to fund education..

The tool is available at http://www.backseatbudgeter.com/.

On Oct. 26, representatives from Douglas County government, CSU, health care and the media will be on hand to discuss the budget and its impact on local government and schools.

Speakers include:

• Bonnie Betz, Douglas County School District RE 1 chief financial officer
• John Brackney, South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce president
• Tony Frank, Colorado State University president
• Curtis Hubbard, Denver Post editorial page editor
• Shepard Nevel, Colorado Health Foundation vice president for policy and evaluation
• Jill Repella, Douglas County commissioner
Nelson Garcia, 9News education reporter, and Chris Adams, president of Engaged Public, which developed the online tool, will serve as moderators of the event.

Backseat Budgeter provides residents the opportunity to better understand the challenges and complexities of the public budgeting process to make more informed decisions.

“The updated version of Backseat Budgeter allows Colorado residents to see for themselves the impact of Proposition 103. After the election, the site will be updated to reflect new choices about our fiscal future,” Adams said.

Backseat Budgeter incorporates the same restrictions faced by state lawmakers, including constitutional amendments such as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and Amendment 23, which requires the state to maintain certain levels of K-12 education spending. If a Backseat Budgeter user “violates” one of these constitutional requirements or other laws, they are confronted with a flashing warning telling them that voters must approve their choice.

The Colorado version of Backseat Budgeter is a public service provided by Engaged Public in collaboration with Colorado State’s Bighorn Leadership Development Program.

“The Backseat Budgeter was initially conceived as an educational tool designed to educate participants in the Bighorn Leadership Program about Colorado’s budget and to keep alumni engaged and up-to-date on current budget issues,” said Brenda Morrison, managing director of Engaged Public and director of the Bighorn Leadership Program.

Engaged Public is a public policy strategy firm specializing in policy and leadership development, community engagement and facilitation. Its purpose is to provide services to create better public policy.

The Colorado version of Backseat Budgeter is funded by a grant from The Colorado Health Foundation. The Colorado Health Foundation works to make Colorado the healthiest state in the nation by investing in grants and initiatives to health-related nonprofits that focus on increasing the number of Coloradans with health insurance, ensuring they have access to quality, coordinated care and encouraging healthy living. For more information, go to www.ColoradoHealth.org.