by Cathryn Taub
Note: This blog entry was completed just prior to the House’s discussion and votes on these amendments on March 31, 2015.
So the budget has begun. The moment we have all been waiting for. Previous alumni have been very helpful in preparing us for what is about to come. Their input was very helpful, but it also scared the pants off some of us. Staring at the daunting mass of amendments (399 pages) due in 72 hours had our office a little overwhelmed. Like the good little social worker bees that we are, it was time to dig in our heels, and get down to the job we came here to do. Bring on the coffee.
Overall, many of the amendments we analyzed were either good, or at least not bad. Many representatives have continued to put out a number of amendments that will greatly improve funding to services across the state. Since amendments must be “give and take”, they must state what entity is having funds withdrawn, and which entity shall be receiving said amount. While this is a major component of an amendment being adopted, the amount of amendments not specifying where monies were going or coming from became a running joke around the office. It was also interesting to see which entity being funded was unilaterally disliked. There were several entities whose budget was completely decimated multiple times, in multiple amendments, across both sides of the aisle.
Alternatives to Abortion Education, if even only a few of the proposed amendments are adopted, will be basically unfunded. Since this is an educational program promoting abstinence as birth control, funding this would be about as useful as expecting abstinence to be an effective birth control method. Reading the amendments decimating this funding was almost comical in their no-holds barred approach. Several House members seemed bound and determined to bankrupt that fund. While several Democratic members were quite enthusiastic about defunding, there was somewhat of a bipartisan take all from this particular fund.
Border security is another very large fund that many representatives have drawn funds from. It is interesting to see the number of representatives, who cry out about the importance of border security, propose to use its funding for improvements to their districts. Welcome to politics. Of course, from the way the budget reads, we are funding an army down there, so it is a big pie to take a bite from. I’m fairly certain, if some representatives got their way, the border would be better covered militarily, than some countries. Knowing what and who crosses our border is important, but drones, military aircraft, and sending a small army to the border may be a bit extreme.
Some of the amendments are quite hilarious. Clearly the author, like me now, works until the wee hours of the morning, and the verbiage is very entertaining. While this is normally something our group would giggle at; one of us just summarized an amendment by stating “this amendment will require the study submits a report on the study”. Hello sleep deprivation. Many of us have that glazed look to our eyes, and there is no longer enough coffee on the planet to help us get through this. Many of us have been here 18-20 hours a day since Sunday, and we do not expect to be going home this Tuesday night, either. Previous LSG alumni warned us about budget night, but I don’t think it is something one can understand until you go through it. I have never had a child, but this budget is my equivalent, and, once printed, will probably weigh about the same.
Overall, this internship has pushed me in ways I never imagined. I have learned much about myself, and where I fit into the world of political social work. Self-awareness has been a huge part of growth for me while undertaking this internship, as I knew it would be. This is the type of environment that tests us, our political leanings, and general beliefs. Assumptions are proven both wrong and right, but I find it important to recognize that I made said assumption in the first place. Hearing negative comments about your beliefs and values is always difficult, and determining the best course of action in dealing with it is a large part of my growth. Learning which battles are worth fighting and which are the equivalent of banging your head against a concrete wall is a skill that will be a benefit during my professional career. This is one of the most difficult internships the GCSW offers, and I understand why. The skills learned under the pink dome will be invaluable throughout my life.