We already know that YIG provides curious and active students from all over the state of Colorado the opportunity to come to the capitol building, sit where our senators and House representatives sit, and simulate the reality of working in government. But how authentic of an experience is it? If the students participating in this year’s YIG are elected into office, how much of a difference can they expect to find? I interviewed the Chief of Staff for the President of the Senate, Ariana Busby, to find out exactly how different YIG is from the real thing.
Ariana Busby is the current Chief of Staff for the President of the Senate and her responsibilities include managing all of the different staff branches for the President of the Senate. She is the first contact for legislators who have questions about bills from the Senate, and has worked in the capitol building for six years, and, over time, has held many different positions. She started as an intern and remained as one for her first year, after she was promoted to policy director. Here she helped determine the agenda. She remained as policy direct for one year, and has been Chief of Staff for the President of the Senate since. In the interview she stated that just like in YIG after a bill is passed in the Senate, it is sent to the House to be approved. After a bill is approved by both the House and the Senate, it is sent to the governor who can then veto the bill or refuse to sign it. The House and Senate can override a governor’s veto by two thirds vote, just like in YIG, but in recent years that has not happened.
One of the major differences of YIG and actual politics is the presence of political parties. Political parties are a good way of representing large groups of people and speeding up the political process. In YIG so far, about 61 bills have been seen by committees. Three of them have been agreed upon by Congress which is about 5% of the bills have been passed so far. Alternatively, according to Ariana Busby, 64% of bills were agreed upon by both the House and the Senate. Even though the House of Representatives is controlled by democrats, and the Senate was controlled by republicans this amount of bills agreed upon by Congress. Based on the information available, it can be said that the presence of political parties increases the likelihood of politicians agreeing on bills.
Another one of the key differences between YIG and the actual government of Colorado is the amount of time spent on the bills. In real government, Congress spends 5 months a year discussing and passing bills. Senate Bill 1 about funding for transportation took almost 5 months to pass, but it eventually passed congress unanimously. Just like in YIG the Senate and House of Representatives disagreed on how to solve this funding issue. There were two options: raise taxes, or take a loan and accumulate more debt. The Senate argued that we have enough money in the loan to pay for the transportation needs, and taxes don’t need to be raised. The House of Representatives argued that if Colorado was to dip into another recession, we would need more tax revenue. In the midterms there were two propositions that would be voted on for the funding of transportation. One supported what the House wanted to do for this issue, and the other supported the solution that the Senate proposed. None of them passed, so eventually they decided that Congress should work as one to create their own proposition, and initially give $500 million to the transportation budget.
All in all, YIG provides a very accurate simulation of how a state government actually functions. Only those few slight differences that Ariana Busby was so kind as to share with me are present in YIG. Unfortunately, Ariana will be leaving the capitol building after only six short years, but her future looks optimistic as she pursues her law degree and hopes to become a lawyer. She has some parting advice to share with the lawmakers of YIG who want to pursue jobs in the government of Colorado “Start early. We are hiring interns all the time … Almost every worker here started as an intern” and she assures these people that, “it’s going to be worth it in the long run”.