By ROWENA PLETT
As the Kansas Legislature struggled to deal with budgets, taxes, and economic stimulus, so too were two Marion High School students.
The two boys — Austin Molleker, son of Robin Brooks and Don Molleker, and John Lind, son of Doug and Virginia Lind — attended Boys State last week at Kansas State University.
Their week began with elections. Austin and John, who stayed in separate dorms, were assigned to different parties too. Austin was a Nationalist, and John was a Federalist.
“The Federalists won all the positions,” John said. Austin said the election were “really cool.”
The 500 boys in attendance vied for various positions in city, county, and state government.
Austin became a city councilman. His five-member council had the task of building a city from scratch.
“That was the most stressful part of the week,” he said.
They created a budget, established government departments, made laws, and worked with other cities and county officials to establish a prison.
When the state government raised taxes, unemployment in his city rose to 66 percent. The council solved the problem, he said, by hiring people who formerly volunteered to serve as firemen, policemen, and emergency personnel.
With a grant from the Department of Education, the city built a school. The Department of Tourism paid for a golf course.
John worked in the Department of Transportation. His group started out each day with a certain amount of “money.” It was their job to allocate it to various projects throughout the state.
“I had $1,000 left at the end of the week,” John said.
But Austin said “I didn’t make enough to live on.”
Both boys said it was a good learning experience.
“I learned a lot about politics as a whole, and I learned to understand my own political views,” Austin said.
John said: “I learned how much difference people can make in government, even one person. I know now what it takes to be a leader.”