Washington, DC – Idaho students are speaking out on the national debt and student dropout rates in a big way this week—taking their message all the way to the U.S. Capitol and carrying petitions with more than 400 names. Students with the mayor’s advisory groups from Nampa and Caldwell met with Idaho Senator Mike Crapo this morning, accompanied by both Nampa Mayor Tom Dale and Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas.
Crapo said the group’s presentation calling for reduced federal debt and for legislation to address the high school dropout problem was so impressive that he took to the Senator floor afterward to compliment the students and the mayors who brought them to Washington. He carried their petitions with him to the Senate floor.
“These students brought me petitions with the signatures of more than 400 students in Idaho who probably reflect many more than that,” Crapo said. “They have asked that we in Congress pay attention to our national debt and our inability here in Congress to achieve fiscal responsibility. These young people said what I and many others have been saying, only they said it best. Our inability to control our fiscal house here in Washington, DC, is jeopardizing their future.”
Crapo noted the federal budget that has been proposed will increase taxes by at least $1.4 trillion and would double the debt held by the public in five years and triple it in ten years. ”They looked me in the eye and asked me to do everything that I can to help protect them from what they see as runaway spending,” Crapo added. “While Americans are tightening their belts, this budget grows the size of government for nine percent for non-defense programs in just the year 2010 alone. If you go back to the 2009 budget we just finalized and add the growth there, you will see a twenty percent increase.”
Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas said the student advisory board has done extensive research about government spending. “They brought this issue to us and they are concerned about what is being asked of them, their children and their grandchildren,” he said. “They sent petitions out across the Valley and sought views from across the State of Idaho.”
“It was nice to know that Senator Crapo agreed with our feelings about the budget,” said Lainey Ritthaler of Caldwell, who attends Vallivue High School. “This gives you a real sense that our democracy works. We have a voice, coming here from Caldwell. Senator Crapo listened to us and he supported us.” The group also collected signatures from Idaho Falls and Twin Falls students.
“Both of our communities really understand the importance of listening to the input of our youth,” said Nampa Mayor Tom Dale. “We set up these teen councils because we want to expose our youth to our national political scene and to have them talk directly to our Congressional Delegation and have input on national issues.”
“We hosted a summit on dropout issues in Nampa and learned that 1.2 million teens drop out of school ever year,” said Tyler Hatch of Skyview High School in Nampa, a member of the student advisory group. “That’s almost the entire population of Idaho, so we targeted legislation that could help. Our Delegation members were amazingly kind and receptive to us and we were able to get our questions answered.”
Crapo’s remarks and photos of the meeting with the mayors and students are available on the Senator’s website at http://crapo.senate.gov. His floor speech is also available via Pathfire and on his new You Tube site at http://www.youtube.com/senatorcrapo