Government Day 2018

By: Kara Welch, Upstate Medical University

Albert Bushnell Hart: “Taxation is the price which civilized communities pay for the opportunity of remaining civilized.”

The design team started meeting for this day in August and was happy when the day finally arrived.  The theme of “Follow the Money” came quickly to us.  The idea of wanting to know where our tax dollars go made it easy for the team to have an activity to make the day interactive. As part of that activity we asked the class to fill out a survey before class day, asking if you were a representative how much would you personally allocate toward 12 categories.

Class day was held at the Justice Center, when entering everyone was asked to vote for their Congressional Representative. After a welcome to the day we got an overview of how government works by Dean Burrows, President of Gear Motions, taking us all back to that government class we had in high school.  Luckily Dean made it interactive so it wasn’t as boring as when we were younger.

Next we heard from Rachel May, Senate Candidate, D-NY 53rd District.  She spoke to us about State Finances.

We had a conversation with Dana Balter, Congressional Candidate, D-NY 24th Congressional District about taxes, health care, education, minimum wage and social security.  To keep the playing field even later in the afternoon we heard from John Katko, U.S. Congressman, R-NY 24th Congressional District on the same issues.  Tammy Palmer, Anchor, Spectrum News did a great job of moderating for both conversations.

We got to see our money at work by taking a tour of the Justice Center, which I’m sure was very eye opening for a lot of us.  They use an open module for the inmates which means that there is one deputy/guard for 60 inmates that are not in their cells.  They have a common area to watch tv, recreation area to exercise and a place for eating.  There’s also a small room with books.  We heard from Sheriff Gene Conway and Esteban Gonzales, Chief Custody Deputy after our tour.  They answered any questions we had and gave us some information about the center.

The day ended with an activity called “Show Me the Money”.  In our color groups we had to come to a consensus of how much money should be given to the 12 discretionary categories in the Federal Discretionary Budget, and 1 other category.   We were given 10 minutes to figure this out.  After 10 minutes each group shared their results.   After sharing the results each team elected a member to represent them and work with the other representatives to come up with a final budget in 10 minutes.  Once the final budget was decided on we compared it to what the actually federal discretionary budget was.

A big thank you to the Justice Center for hosting us, Tammy Palmer for moderating and the class for making the day a success!