Summer SAVY 2017, Session 3/Day 4- Big Money, Big Decisions (Rising 4th/5th)
Today in Big Money, Big Decisions we talked about balancing budgets. We started the day off with a game called Budgetopolis. I use this game in my work with elected officials in North Carolina. The game puts the players into roles as Mayor, clerk, and board. Once the game starts the players have to make hard cuts while keeping in mind their community’s needs, priorities, and the values. They learned how hard it is to raise taxes, to make cuts when everything seems so important, and how tricky it is to pull down savings. Our three towns (Smashville, Money Town, Cheeseville, and Athens) selected different community values, envisioned their populations differently and made some different choices. That being said they made many of the same choices too. They all consolidated services, they all privatized garbage collection, and most deferred capital investments of one kind or another. What they did was try and protect their citizens from feeling the brunt of the cuts. However, when revenues got tight our towns did have to start making really hard and unpopular choices. Some increased property taxes, some closed recreation centers, and reduced patrols for school safety. Throughout the deliberations, the media (yours truly) “tweeted” responses to some of their choices. You can see pictures of some of those tweets below.
After we finished up with Budgetopolis we moved on to debating federal and state income taxes. The class voted (after hearing proposals) to keep progressive income taxes at the federal level, but that Tennessee should not adopt an income tax.
Tomorrow we are going to talk about what citizens can do to engage with this process! We will talk about what government is doing to make it easier and how we can help our voices be heard. We are also very excited to be getting ready for open house. We hope that many of you can come and talk to us about Politics and Policies!
Dr. Whitney Afonso