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OSPIRG Funding Reduced 6.66%

I’ve been told by a reliable source that in a late night emergency meeting Monday evening the Programs Finance Committee agreed to the Executive’s recommendation of a total budget decrease of 6.66%.

As it’s late and I should really be sleeping or laying things out, I’ll only give a brief summary of the past two weeks’ events:

  • Feb. 16 PFC Meeting – OSPIRG asks for an allotment of $115,274, a 4% reduction from their previous year’s total of $120,077. OSPIRG asks for this reduction because they have apparently roped another member school in during the past year. Meanwhile, the Executive recommends $112,077, a 6.66% reduction. The Executive asks for this increased reduction because of a line item for a “Campus Field Organizer” – a new position whose duties would include going to non-PIRG campuses and attempting to start new chapters. PFC members Richard Malena and Jacob Daniels initially express concern over the position and question whether the PFC can demand that OSPIRG not fund the position. This, of course, is impossible: Despite having line items on their budget, all OSPIRG revenues are ultimately pooled at a statewide level and then spent, so there is no conceivable way for the PFC to demand the money not be spent on a particular thing. Malena and others toss around the idea of including a note asking the state PIRG to not spend money on the position and hide the excess funds elsewhere in the budget, but ASUO Senators Toby Piering and Stephanie Erickson, despite initially opposing the increase, argue that writing notes and hiding funds is a bad precedent to set. Ultimately the PFC votes to fund OSPIRG the amount they requested. Ayes: Scott Lu, Malena, Kristin Kato. Nays: Daniels, Erica Anderson. Abstaining: Jared Axelrod. Absent: Adam Turcott.
  • Feb. 23 – The Executive vetoes the budget, according to the ODE.
  • Feb. 27 Regular 5:00 PFC Meeting – OSPIRG again presents its case for the position, with board members arguing that the position would “increase OSPIRG’s political power” and would not be a misuse of student incidental fees. The Executive (in the form of Adam Walsh and Nick Hudson) again states its disagreement with funding the position and threatens to veto anything above their recommendation. Among their reasons is that such an obvious misuse of fees would be an impetus for conservative groups like Fire to attack the fee in courts. The PFC, bridling at the threat of a veto, votes again to fund OSPIRG at 4%. Ayes: Scott Lu, Richard Malena, Kristin Kato, Adam Turcott. Nays: Jacob Daniels. Abstaining: Jared Axelrod. Absent: Erica Anderson.
  • Feb. 27 ??:??pm – The Executive again vetoes the PFC’s recommendation.
  • Feb. 27 10:18pm – I’m notified that there will be an emergency PFC meeting at 10:30 pm. Unfortunately, I’m unable to attend.
  • Feb. 27 10:30pm – During this meeting the PFC eventually votes to fund OSPIRG along the Executive’s guidelines. I’m sure the ODE will have a vote tally in the morning as they had a reporter at the meeting.

While unlikely, it is possible that the OSPIRG budget could still be approved by the Student Senate if the sitting members vote 4/5 to deny the PFC’s recommendation.

UPDATE: I forgot to note that at the regular Feb. 27 PFC meeting the PFC passed a recommendation that was one dollar less than what OSPIRG had asked for. I don’t believe they could have re-recommended the budget at their original amount.
UPDATE #2: According to the ODE, Turcott changed his vote in order to defer to Axelrod, who voted against overturning the Exec’s veto.

  1. Silly Rabbit says:

    Seems like the only ones who took a continued stand were Adam Walsh, Jacob Daniels, and Erica Anderson.

    Props to them.

  2. ian says:

    As odious as the PIRG is, this is at least a step in the right direction. Good on Walsh for sticking to his guns on this one, even if his guns are smaller than we might like.

    Yup. You have to admire Walsh’s willingness to tough it out despite the fact the rest of student government is now firmly concentrated on the upcoming election and pandering to groups. While at the Feb. 16 meeting, someone who I was sitting next to leaned over and asked “Why is Walsh doing this?” I believe the answer is “principles,” strangely enough.


  3. Casey says:

    Sign of the Devil!

  4. Timothy says:

    As odious as the PIRG is, this is at least a step in the right direction. Good on Walsh for sticking to his guns on this one, even if his guns are smaller than we might like.

    What’s sad is that the PFC and the Senate know, for a fact, that OSPIRG’s funding is illegal but they do it anyway. I like that the PIRGers have gotten so blatant about using student fees for direct political action. Now would be a good time for FIRE or some other motivated University student to revisit the issue that was visited in Rounds v. OSPIRG.

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