PinkScarfFor the very first time I was sitting in our state’s Hall of Representatives. I was in seat #30. As I sat there waiting for the proceedings to start, I wondered about all the men and women, over decades, who have sat in this seat. The history, the drama, the consequences of their actions! The stories they could tell! And the stories told today were eloquent, poignant, riveting and, hopefully, persuasive.

Over 300 people attended this House Finance Committee budget hearing, representing many different causes: school funding, mental health, legal aid, domestic violence, age-related issues, college debt, and the developmental disability community. You could recognize this group because of the pink scarves we wore.

A family member from Keene (pictured right) came with me to Concord, and she gave personal testimony on how funding for a rate increase was especially important for service providers. It was the first time she had gone to the State House and she was impressed and excited about being part of something big.

About 200 people spoke and the hearing went well into the evening. My friend was #59 on the list and it took 2 1/2 hours to get to her! As I looked around this majestic hall (it’s the second oldest statehouse in the country), I noticed a large number of young people. Some were high school students and some were college students. I was encouraged by their presence and their willingness to speak to issues which concerned them. Everyone who spoke was courageous and committed.

We had a very impressive turnout. I do hope that members of the House Finance Committee really listened to their constituents and their needs. I will confess that when sitting in seat #30, I was tempted to press some buttons. In the seat directly in front of me were three buttons - YES, NO and 30. I did resist the temptation.

Contributed by Marylouise Alther.