August 24th 2016
SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Can all Senators please take their seats?
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SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Thank you. Now that we have a quorum, I call this session to order. The floor is open to new business.
SENATOR RACHEL LESTER (T – Vann – Croshaw Sys): Speaker …
SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Senator Lester, you have the floor.
SENATOR RACHEL LESTER (T – Vann – Croshaw Sys): Thank you, Mister Speaker. Eighteen months ago, the Concerned Citizens Foundation embarked on an ambitious project — to identify and itemize every government expenditure from the 2944 fiscal year directly related to the Synthworld. A valiant and thankless task only made more difficult by a lack of support from this government.
Last week, the CCF released their report, which I have since forwarded to all members of the Senate. For those who have yet to read it, allow me to summarize. It details negligent management strategies, flagrant approval processes, and a myriad of subsidized objectives with only a passing relevance to the Project at large. The sheer amount of expenditures that could not be verified or even traced is shocking at best, and outright corruption at worst.
Fifteen million taxpayer credits down the drain because someone ordered the wrong types of screws. Another six million spent to upgrade functional holoscreens that were less than two years old. These are credits that could have been spent to ship more food to Hyperion or improve security for those living in Nexus.
Simply put, the people of our great Empire are suffering, and we all know that this government lacks the credits needed to deal with every issue. This financial strain is forcing us to make difficult decisions. Do we prioritize system security so our people can safely fly between worlds without worry of an outlaw attack? Do we strengthen the social services so orphans of the Vanduul War get the support they deserve? Do we allocate the necessary funds to build the infrastructure needed to ensure the people of Tram have safe and clean water?
Or do we stick with the status quo, where millions of credits are spent on the Synthworld with little to no oversight?
It is with this in mind that I have drafted the Sensible Synthworld amendment, designated AV4-3223, aimed at improving the accountability of the Project Archangel Initiative by changing its budgetary designation from “mandatory” to “discretionary.” So, rather than mandating that a percentage of the overall budget must be spent on the Synthworld each year, my amendment makes it a discretionary expenditure, empowering the Appropriations Committee to review and approve its budget every year.
That way, when reports like the one just released from the CCF reveal reckless spending, we can actually do something about it. In these strained economic times, it has never been more important to guarantee that every last credit spent by this government is being put to good use.
Thank you. I relinquish the rest of my time.
SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Thank you, Senator. Archivist, please enter AV4-3223 into the record.
ARCHIVIST YATES: Yes, Speaker.
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE (U – Asura – Ferron Sys): Speaker, if I may …
SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Senator Beate, the floor is now yours.
SENATOR OCTAVIA BEATE (U – Asura – Ferron Sys): On the surface, Senator Lester’s proposal sounds sensible — an exercise in good government. But make no mistake, it’s a Trojan Horse. Last year, Senator Lester was quoted in the Terra Gazette as saying that the “Synthworld symbolized Human hubris,” and that she would have voted against the project if she had been a member of the Senate when it was first proposed.
So it’s pretty clear that this amendment isn’t really about providing greater oversight of the Synthworld. It’s about putting the entire project’s budget on the chopping block each year, forcing the hard-working scientists and researchers to have to justify every single expenditure, every single year, rather than focusing on the colossal assignment with which they have been tasked. That way, Senator Lester and others of the anti-Synthworld ilk can slowly bleed it dry, diverting its funding into pet projects until there is nothing left. Their eventual goal is to leave the Senate no other choice than to shut down the ambitious venture altogether.
Imperator Corbyn Salehi worried about this exact scenario when he first proposed Project Archangel. He understood that such a monumental project would require an unprecedented level of commitment from this government, and that there would be countless politicians who lacked the fortitude and the long-term vision needed for the Synthworld to succeed — politicians more worried about their reelection than what was best for their people.
That’s exactly why Imperator Salehi fought for the Synthworld’s funding to be mandatory. It was the only way to ensure that the project would not become susceptible to the whims of the Senate’s budgetary process each and every year. Such a project can only succeed when everyone involved is confident that the necessary funds will be there.
In short, the Synthworld’s success rests on two things: the strength of our conviction and the Empire’s commitment to paying for the project. Changing its budgetary status from mandatory to discretionary jeopardizes the second part of that equation, and I fear, will eventually eat away at our resolve to accomplish this remarkable feat of engineering.
That’s why I’m asking you to reject this amendment. Stand with me in honoring Imperator Salehi’s original, fearless vision for the Synthworld. Thank you.
SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Senator Lester, any final comments?
SENATOR RACHEL LESTER (T – Vann – Croshaw Sys): First, the quote Senate Beate referenced was from a lengthy interview with the Terra Gazette. While I did note that I probably wouldn’t have voted for the Synthworld had I served back then, I went on to explain that there are already plenty of planets and moons where one can fly for hours without encountering any sign of Humanity. With all this unexplored and underdeveloped land still out there, why should we be building a world from scratch unless it’s absolutely necessary?
But that was an answer to a hypothetical question. Right now, I’m more concerned about the reality we all face. As the old adage goes, ‘times have changed.’ We’re a very different Empire in a very different position than where we were in 2872. Back then, conflict with the Vanduul had settled back into sporadic raids, far from the active military campaign that we’re currently engaged in. The UEE had recently approved a new lend-lease program with the Xi’An, opening up opportunities for corporate ventures between our two great civilizations. It was a good time.
I’m sure if some of those Senators were here today, they’d reconsider their vote. They’d see that it had been almost a year since the attacks on Aremis left much of the planet in pieces. Yet, because of the Synthworld’s mandatory spending status, more of the UEE’s money in this next fiscal year will go towards building a fake planet than rebuilding one where Humans have lived for over 500 years.
This amendment is not some secret plot to kill the Synthworld. It’s an appeal to this Senate to bring the ambitious project’s spending in line with the Empire’s many other priorities. But that can’t be accomplished until its budgetary status is changed. Regardless of what anyone else says, this is truly what this amendment is all about.
SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Any other Senators care to weigh in on AV4-3223 before we vote on whether to refer the amendment to committee?
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SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Quite a few, I see. Let’s take a five-minute recess to properly organize the speaking order.
< gavel bang >
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