As legislative sessions start to kick off in states around the country, newsrooms will undoubtedly be looking for ways to cover various negotiations and budget crises. The idea of a “budget balancing” game is nothing new — lots of newsrooms have tried it — but many have taken their own conceptual approaches. Here are a few different examples:

1. New York Times – Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget

This approach lets users select multiple options (tax increases and spending cuts) then watch on a scale how much money those decisions make in the short-term and longterm. You can read more about the methodology on the Economix blog.

Best feature: See impacts on both the short-term and long-term 

2. LA Times — California Budget Balancer

The LA Times first lets you select a starting point based on how much you’d spend on public schools, and from there, you can granularly reduce or eliminate funding in other areas using a slider. As you make decisions, you watch the remaining deficit drop. Unlike the NYT approach, the LA Times lets the user have more control over the values inputted, rather than basing it off real-life proposals.

Best feature: When you’ve come to a proposal you’re happy with, you can see your breakdown for where money is allocated, then share it on social media.  Read more