Council passes executive budget

    The A.S. Council approved President Jeremy Paul Gallagher’s Executive Budget for the 2003-04 school year with a vote of 17-0-1, on June 4.

    “”I’m happy with the way it turned out,”” Gallagher said after the final vote. “”I think this is the start of something that can produce a lot of change and really affect the campus. I promise to continue doing that.””

    Three separate budget meetings, totaling over 14 hours in length, preceded debate on the council floor. All budget meetings were open for public comment.

    Debate on the council floor centered on increasing funding for the Student-Initiated Outreach and Recruitment Commission.

    Nam Bui, the John Muir College sophomore senator, moved to reallocate $5,000 from the Cultural/Awareness Program Unallocated line item to SIORC. The amendment passed, 13-3-2.

    Also, Commissioner of Student Services Kelly Vasant reported that a sponsorship arrangement for the Triton Taxi service may allow more money to be funneled to SIORC.

    At a June 2 budget meeting, items of contention included funding for SIORC, changes in council members’ stipends, as well as funding for A.S. programming and the Academic Success Program.

    At a budget meeting on June 2, External Vice-Chair of the Student Affirmative Action Coalition Rigo Marquez urged the council to increase funding for SIORC.

    “”Where are our priorities?”” Marquez said. “”We’re the least diverse of the UCs. The programs that we’re putting on are to increase the diversity of our campus.””

    SIORC receives funding from the state through the Office of Student Affairs. A combination of state-level budget cuts as well as decreased allocations from the vice chancellor’s office have led to a large decrease in funds from previous years.

    Marquez and a handful of supporters request that an additional $12,100 be allocated to SIORC to make up for the lack of state money.

    Daniel Gonzales, A.S. representative to SAAC, suggested that funding priority be given to SIORC over other student programs.

    “”I understand that school’s supposed to be fun or whatever, but compare seeing Homegrown versus getting a degree,”” Gonzales said. “”How can you compare the magnitude of what that means to someone’s life?””

    Council members present at the meeting showed strong support for increased funding of SIORC, but disagreed over where the money should come from.

    Melissa Tsang, Revelle College Council chair, suggested that a voluntary program for council members to reduce their stipends to $7 per week would free a large sum of money for SIORC.

    Tsang encouraged the council to realize the message of lowering the stipends would send to the campus community.

    “”This is serious,”” Said told council members.

    Executive officers, commissioners, senators and other A.S. assistants currently receive stipends ranging from $10 to $105 per week for a varying number of weeks.

    The version of the budget used at a June 2 meeting for the budget increased stipends for some council members, including the president and college senators. However, the budget approved for next year keeps stipends at levels consistent with previous years and does not take into account any voluntary reductions that may occur in the future.

    Another target for funding was the A.S. programming line item.

    Sierra Catcott, Thurgood Marshall College senior senator and senate chair, expressed apprehension about the large size of the proposed increase in the programming budget.

    Alex Kushner, commissioner of programming, predicted corporate sponsorship of events like the Sun God Festival might actually make a profit for the council in the future. In order to get to that point, Kushner said, more money is now needed.

    Catcott said the reduced funds would impact smaller programs, like lecture series, and T.G.I.F. and Nooners concerts, rather than the large quarterly festivals.

    “”I think SIORC is an excellent organization and they need to be protected,”” Catcott said.

    The budget passed by the council for 2003-04 increases the programming line item by $20,000 from the previous year for a total of $445,000 budgeted.

    Addressing another item of contention during the June 2 meeting, Chris Murphy, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt College, urged the council to increase funding for the Academic Success Program.

    “”We would like funding of $1 per student per quarter, in accordance with the lock-in,”” Murphy said. “”That one dollar, in my opinion, shouldn’t even be discussed.””

    The draft of the budget used at the meeting underfunded the required level for ASP by $2,157. Council members voiced support for Murphy’s argument and recommended the deficiency be corrected.

    The budget passed by the council allocated $38,257.02 for ASP, meeting the levels approved by the referendum.

    The approved budget anticipates 19,800 students for the next academic year with the quarterly A.S. activity fee generating over $1.2 million in revenue. An additional $108,060 is expected to be produced by A.S. Soft Reserves, the Grove Caffe and A.S. Lecture Notes.

    Since the approved budget does not meet the amount for a mandated reserve in the Office of Enterprise Operations, the council was required to suspend a financial bylaw that requires such a reserve. The bylaw was suspended with a vote of 15-0-2.

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