Jackson one of 20 cities chosen for budget forum - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson one of 20 cities chosen for budget forum

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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The U.S. Congress and President Obama continue to grapple with budget issues that will affect all of us. But do they really know what we want?

A group discussion at the Walthall Hotel in Jackson Saturday is also happening in 19 other cities around the nation. Directed through a live broadcast from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the program, called America Speaks, seeks to gather ideas from regular American citizens on how to prioritize budget items.

"I guess my greatest hope is that people would be more realistic about politics and the choices they make," said one participant. "For the future here in America to reflect the true American dream," said another.

"People have an opportunity to discuss what they think should be cut, what they think should be added. It's an exercise in civic engagement," said Ivye Allen, President of Foundation for the MidSouth, which organized the event in Jackson.

Participants came in groups or by themselves. They're everyday folks with viewpoints they've been wanting to share. In the first exercise of the day, they were asked to list the one thing that's most important to them in the future of the country.

"My greatest hope is that the next generation will have access to participate in the arts," said one participant. "For our children, it's very important to be able to stand up to what they believe in," said another.

Eventually, they hone their ideas for shaping budgetary policy.

This America Speaks nationwide town hall meeting isn't just for fun. "The findings will be shared with Congress, the President, and the President's budget commission. Some of them are at the various meetings, participating in this today," Allen said.

America Speaks is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., which  aims to give citizens a stronger voice.

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