Texas lawmakers have six weeks left in the regular session, and their struggle with the state's tight budget is expected to take up much of that time. It could even push them into a special session this summer if they can't reconcile differences between the House and Senate over these final weeks. It's a hard job, and perhaps the best way to show you that is to hand you some of the numbers —the programs that might be cut, the taxes that might be raised — and let you make some choices as to how the $27 billion budget shortfall should be closed (you can make comments on the app, and on the budget, here). With a tip of the hat to The New York Times — which inspired us with its federal budget solver — and the Houston Chronicle — our partner in this — we invite you to roll up your sleeves, put on your green eyeshade, and get to work on the shortfall.
Once you've glanced through our list of budget options, you can pick the options you think would be the most appropriate way to close the budget shortfall. You can share your choices with your friends on Facebook and Twitter to start an informed conversation about the hard choices our government faces. And you can connect your submission with your lawmakers so that, after we've collected enough data, we can show you how each district feels about the budget; and connect your submission with your Facebook account so your lawmakers can see that your opinions are held by a real constituent, not just by one person submitting the same opinion over and over. We'll also show you what was most popular — and what was least popular — so you can see how your answers matched up with everyone else's. If you'd rather remain anonymous, you don't have to share your choices, or have them attached to your name.