Published Dec 12, 2013. By Dani Kinnison.
GALESBURG — Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, will host an interactive budget workshop at Carl Sandburg on Tuesday to gather feedback from residents on federal budget priorities.
At the workshop, participants will work in small groups to act as legislators and work to decide how to approach balancing the budget and work to reduce the deficit. Bustos is hosting the event in partnership with Concord Coalition, a non-partisan group that focuses on fiscal policy.
Sarah Imhof, the coalition’s Midwest regional director, said the purpose of the event is to engage people outside of the Capitol in reaching solutions toward a balanced budget and also provide an educational opportunity for participants about the budget process.
“Part of what participants will get out of this is they will get a fact-based education about the federal budget and national debt,” Imhof said. “Folks outside of D.C. are engaged in being a part of the process in reaching solutions,” toward a budget.
Imhof said the interactive budget workshop will be an opportunity for Bustos to learn about what attendees consider priorities for the nation’s budget and can use the feedback when making decisions when she is in the Capitol.
“She will get to hear first-hand the type of dialogue these participants have and she can take that information back to Washington and use it to help inform her votes in the future,” Imhof said. “In a sense, it’s not a political event, it’s really her hosting us so it stays educational where she is learning rather than giving information.”
At the interactive budget workshop, participants will focus on four main components of the federal budget: tax policies, defense and homeland security spending, major mandatory entitlements and general government discretionary spending. Policy options provided at the workshop have all been scored by the Congressional Budget Office for their fiscal impact on the debt or deficit.
“They will have numbers associated with them as far as how much they would cost or save (the country),” Imhof said. “You kind of look at people’s priorities but they might be looking at decisions based on the numbers.”
Imhof said the event aims to attract a variety of participants in order to have a richer exercise.
This is the first event of its kind Bustos will host for people in the 17th Congressional District and is an extension of various economic summit and conferences she hosted earlier this year, her communications director, Colin Milligan, said.
“Right now we’re debating a budget proposal that was released last night, so I think the discussion on Tuesday will help her going forward and figuring out what people in her district are concerned about, what their priorities are and what she is focused on in 2014,” Milligan said.