America's Budget: Your Turn

Published Mar 11, 2013. By Deborah Laverty.


MERRILLVILLE | Nick Rozdelsky, 51, brought his teenage nephew with him Monday because balancing the federal budget will affect the future of generations to come.

"I brought my nephew tonight to expose him to this interactive event because it's their future not mine," Rozdelsky said.

His nephew, Michael Rodriguez, 15, agreed.

"I thought it would be interesting to watch and be a part of this," Rodriquez said.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and representatives from the Concord Coalition held an interactive event at the Radisson on Monday challenging constituents to balance the federal budget.

Visclosky welcomed those who took part in the event, including constituents from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.

"Thanks for taking time for this participation in democracy. You'll find it rewarding," Visclosky said. "It's a terrific exercise to take back to Washington, D.C., where we go back to work again tomorrow."

Phil Smith, the National Political Director of Concord Coalition, said, "Now more than ever, it's vital that citizens get involved with the federal budget issue."

The Concord Coalition is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to bipartisan fiscal solutions.

Those who took part worked in groups of five to seven using a real congressional budget and real proposals to construct a mock federal budget plan.

Gary Foreman, of Valparaiso, who chaired one of the tables, breezed through some areas of the options including quickly cutting $30 million that would be used to create infrastructure programs to repair the nation's public schools.

"We spend more on our students than any other nation in the world and still rank last," Foreman said.

Other participants in the event included Gerald and Louise Witulski, of Valparaiso, who said they'd like to get a message across to members of Congress.

Louise Witulski said she and her friends often sit around the kitchen table and discuss what they'd like to do to reduce the budget.

"I just hope these jamokes will get together," Gerald Witulski said. "If not, we need to know how to get rid of them."