Budget Balancer Frequently Asked Questions

Where do I find more background information on the Minnesota state budget topics?
We have compiled a list of resources for further research.

Why isn't the Budget Balancer working on my computer?

To use the Budget Balancer, you need the Adobe Flash player software. Many computers already have Flash. If yours doesn't, you can download it for free from the Adobe Web site

What can I do with my budget?
You can email it to your elected representatives and the governor to express your vision for the state's budget. You can print your budget. You can also compare your budget plan with Governor Pawlenty's.

Why does MPR want my name, email and zip code?
Sharing this information enables us to e-mail your budget plan to the governor, state legislators and others. It also allows us to ask for your help covering the news in the future. Learn more about MPR's Public Insight Network

What will MPR do with my budget plan?
Your privacy is important to us. We will not share your budget plan or personal information outside of the newsroom. We will compile your plan with others that we receive, and analyze them to see if any patterns or trends emerge. We may use what we learn to inform a poll, or to help plan story assignments. We may also contact people to see if we can feature their budget on our web site.

Where did the baseline numbers come from? (0 on the slider)
The baseline number represents the amount that the state was projected to spend or raise as of the February 2007 state revenue forecast.

How did MPR come up with the choices on the Budget Balancer?
We tapped veteran political reporter Pat Sweeney to gather all of the information we needed to create a wide range of budget options. He contacted dozens of people and organizations who are thinking through various parts of the budget and asked them to help come up with realistic budget options. He also talked to many people to understand what effect those options would have on the state if they became law. Our sources ranged widely, from legislative fiscal analysts to advocacy groups to state agencies.

Why can I only choose 5 priorities in the e-mail form?
We have learned from previous budget balancers in 2003 and 2005 that it is difficult for the recipients to focus on what your key issues are when full budget are included. We have therefore scaled down the e-mail while allowing the sender to chose which areas of the budget are most important. It is a quick way for your legislater to see, for example, that several people have included education as a top priority rather than having to keep count of all budget changes in all areas.

Sources/Credits
Board of Public Defense
Department of Agriculture
Department of Education
Department of Employee Relations
Department of Human Services
Department of Revenue
Department of Transportation
House Research Department
Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank
Minnesota Business Partnership
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
Minnesota Children's Defense Fund
Minnesota League of Cities
Minnesota Office of Higher Education
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
Minnesota Taxpayers Association
State House and Senate fiscal analysts
Tobacco-Free Kids
University of Minnesota