As I looked around the room, I was not the only one listening intently.
The half-dozen state legislators present were on the the edges of the chairs, listening to state workers, accounts, members of AFT Connecticut local A&R, explain how the state could help close the current budget deficit.
As it turns out, you can learn a lot by listening to your members.
I was in the living room of Nathan and Toni Karnes, who had invited me to be a part of their legislative house party. We were joined by a dozen or so A&R members and about a half-dozen Connecticut state legislators.
Earlier in the day, I had attended a legislative breakfast in East Lyme and a legislative lunch in Willamantic, now I was in Windsor at Nathan and Toni's house.
My takeaways is this.
Our members are incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable in the work they do.
Healthcare, education, and state workers tell stories that are different and yet they're all the same.
These are not the "greedy state workers" that we read about in the paper. These are Connecticut citizens presenting real ideas to their legislators on saving state money.
Much like the stories I hear from healthcare workers about working through break and lunch to care for their patients, much like the stories I hear of teachers about correcting papers late at night after putting their own children to bed, much like the stories I hear of paraprofessionals working a second job to make ends meet and then taking a portion of those precious dollars and buying food so that their students will not go hungry on the weekend, these state workers told me of emailing their commissionor on Saturdays and Sundays from home, to make sure meetings are set up for Monday morning.
In that living room, they did not complain about possible layoffs or furloughs, that did not complain that they have already given so much, they had honest conversations with their legislators about common sense answers to real state budget problems.
These state workers are not the problem.
They are the answer.
And we can learn a lot by listening to them.