Reported by: Leo Hickey, Frank W. Cox High School, and Neel Mandapati, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
After a long field trip to Richmond the previous day, we woke up ready to tackle today’s challenge. Instead of a normal day which would consist of class and a few guest speakers, we played the Budget Game. The Budget Game was somewhat similar to the Senate Simulation in that we broke up into groups to perform individual tasks and then came together, however this time we separated into a House and a Senate.
The scenario we were given was that we had a budget deficit of $1 billion, and we had to balance the budget. To do this we had to raise taxes and/or cut funding from a lot of very important programs - all while having to spend money on other required programs. On top of this, we had to take into account the fact that members of the House were running for reelection soon after the budget had to be balanced, so they had to fulfill their campaign promises at any cost. We didn’t want to raise taxes too much, nor did we want to cut too much funding for equally important programs. Finding the precarious balance to create a budget was very challenging, but it ended up being very enjoyable.
Aside from having fun role-playing as Virginia’s General Assembly, we learned a lot. One of the things in particular that stuck out to us was how easily we had opposed candidates because they didn’t vote for a specific program or issue. The Budget Game taught us how difficult it is to do everything you think is best for the Commonwealth because there’s a large amount of bargaining needed to resolve even one issue. We also realized how easy it is for politicians to use negative advertising to point out things such as this, and how difficult it is to defend oneself from attacks like these.
We're currently preparing for our policy projects - making the finishing touches to our papers and practicing our presentations!