POSTED: 02/23/15, 9:31 PM EST |
TORRINGTON >> Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty hosted a budget exercise featuring President Barack Obama’s proposed national budget while visiting City Hall on Monday night.
About 25 members of the public attended the event which started at 6 p.m. and ran for about an hour. The evening consisted of a brief discussion of the proposed federal budget as well as a hands-on activity for the public to engage in in an attempt to show the difficulty and time that goes into creating a budget.
Esty, a Democrat, went over the parts of the federal budget that she believes should be made a priority, transportation being one of them.
“We need to make the right kind of adjustments and that includes transportation and infrastructure,” Esty said. “You cannot have a 21st century economy with a mid-20th century infrastructure.”
The president’s proposed budget would steer hundreds of billions of dollars to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure of roads and bridges, help provide two years of free community college and reverse the across-the-board, automatic budget cuts that have slammed the Pentagon and nearly every government department, according to The Associated Press.
At Monday night’s meeting in Torrington, groups were made up of odd numbers and were asked to answer either yes or no to a variety of topics that Congress should or should not spend money on. Each group was asked to elect a chairman and a reporter to keep discussion on track and written down.
Four categories of government spending were given to the groups, and under each category was a list of programs that require government funding. The four categories were general government, military and homeland security spending, health care and social security and taxes/revenue.
Chad Laurie, a policy analyst of the Concord Coalition, presented the activity to the public.
“The goal is to have people see the choices that need to be made to craft a federal budget, and it’s not easy,” Laurie said.
Topics that required a yes or no vote included a creation of a universal pre-K program for low-income children, the removal of the NASA’s human space exploration program and increasing the gas tax by 35 cents and index it to inflation.
As members of the public discussed how they would vote on the suggested items, many asked Esty if amendments could be made to the bill, something Esty said she often proposes in Congress.
“Often my votes are ‘Yes, but’ or ‘No, but’ because I don’t have the power to craft the bill and mend it exactly the way I would like,” she explained.
The participating public was told they simply had to check either yes or no, which kept many groups stuck on only a few topics over the course of the hour.
“In this process, you’re seeing what I face every day,” Esty explained.
The blueprint for the 2016 budget year that begins Oct. 1 represents a 6.4 percent increase over estimated spending this year, projecting that the deficit will decline to $474 billion, the Associated Press reports.
Congress is expected to vote on the budget in the upcoming weeks.
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