The Reilly Center teams with The Advocate on website that lets public "solve the budget"
A partnership between the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School and The Advocate news organization hopes to solve Louisiana’s budget woes. They developed a website, solvethebudget.org, that gives the public a chance to decide how lawmakers should fix the state’s projected $440 million budget deficit.
"Everyone in Louisiana thinks they're smart enough to tackle our state's two most prominent jobs: Governor and LSU football coach. We can't help you with your playcalling, but if you think you've got what it takes to be governor, check out our Solvethebudget.org feature at theadvocate.com,” said Peter Kovacs, the editor of The Advocate.
The poll is split into two sections: taxes and spending. Participants can select “Yes” or “No” to a number of different options, with the dollar amounts included for each. For example, participants can decide whether or not to add a penny to state sales tax or if they would fully fund the college tuition aid program known as TOPS. With each option, the website gives users the chance to “Learn More” with background information for each issue. A graphic at the top of the website shows users how the funds are allocated within the starting budget of $30 billion.
“As governor for a day, you can raise taxes or cut spending or both, and after you're done you'll receive a digital badge designed by our Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Walt Handlesman,” said Kovacs.
Len Apcar, LSU’s Switzer Endowed Chair in Media Literacy at the Manship School of Mass Communication, said the website will teach Louisianans about the complexities of the state’s finances. Apcar said their goal is to give lawmakers the results from the website before legislators finalize the budget during the current legislative session. He said once the information is collected, the results will also be published.
“We’re hoping to get a big number of respondents between now and the end of the legislative session,” Apcar said.
Apcar said the funding for the project comes from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to the Manship School.
The Reilly Center is a part of the Manship School and works to help solve practical problems and advance good government initiatives.