Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Budgets can be Exciting: Saving MCPAP

A funny thing happened on the way the budget the other day- when the budget came out of the House Ways and Means Committee, the section that specified funding for the MCPAP program, of which we have spoken with great praise, was missing. Just vanished, from the end of a paragraph that had passed through the process unscathed on several occasions in the past. In the words of my son, "What's up with that?"

The answer, I guess, is that we will never know. Budgets are created in committee, and they are very large. The committee staff work in a pressure cooker for a month, adding the numbers, trimming to fit, and they don't always know what they are trimming. I've asked a lot of smart people what happened, and no one seems to know.

The process gets even more chaotic at that time; the representatives are allowed to file amendments for about 48 hours, and then it all goes back into caucus, where the amendments are consolodated and voted on in a block. More sleepless nights for the staffers and much nail-biting for advocates. Ruth Balzer filed an ammendment to save MCPAP and it was included in the consolodated amendment that was voted on on Tuesday.

So the good news is that, at the end of the day, MCPAP was back in the budget that will soon be on its way to the Senate. It really shows the importance of participating in all of this complex and marvelous process that is our democracy. Thanks to all of you who joined in the chorus of praise that kept it all alive.

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