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PFC Benchmark D.O.A.

This is it: the inevitable letdown for those who thought that the PFC’s historically low 2.5% budget benchmark would herald a new era of fiscal reponsibility in the ASUO. The Emerald is reporting today that the PFC has already overspent its benchmark, only two meetings into the budget year. This move will come as a surprise only to those who haven’t heard President Axelrod call the benchmark “impossible,” or PFC Chairman Oscar Guerra call it a “suggestion.”

The Emerald’s coverage singles out the Student Recreation Center (SRC) as the main culprit for the budget overrun, following the Axelrod Administrations playbook, which used the SRC budget as a hollow symbol of opposition to the benchmark. According to the Emerald, the SRC “has been running in the red for close to three years, and will continue to do so even with (the 11.7% increase awarded by the PFC).” Dennis Munroe, director of Physical And Recreational Services is quoted as saying that “for the past few years… the PFC has been imposing limits on budget increases, which have caused the SRC to have to dip into reserve equipment funds to pay basic operational costs.” Now to be fair, we do not have a copy of the SRC budget in front of us. There may well be a passable explanation for why, the in the land of PARS, 10%+ cost inflation is the norm. If such a reason exists however, it has not yet been adequately explained. The problem is not so much that the SRC needs an 11%+ increase now, as it is that the SRC has needed such huge increases every single year, despite the PFC’s attempts to limit them. If the PFC sets a reasonable limit on increases, and you then dip into reserves, only to come crying for even more the next year, you have serious problems with responsibility and accountability which must be looked into.

Furthermore, the problem goes well beyond any one program. The SRC is clearly one of the toughest cases for the PFC (which is why everyone wants to use it as an excuse to throw responsibility to the wind), but the reality is that the PFC has, thus far, increased 12 of the 14 budgets it has had hearings for. Since these are contracts and departments, the much-vaunted increase in minimum wage is an easy scapegoat for this complete non-attempt at responsibility. The only semblance of responsible decision-making came when the PFC awarded a 0% increase for OSPIRG, which probably should be completely defunded anyway.

All this proves one thing that has been abundantly clear for a long time: it is way too easy for the ASUO to make no efforts to control the fee, and simply allow the PFC to force up the fee for next years students. If the Student Senate really believed in the 2.5% increase it voted on, it should make it clear to the PFC now that this rampant spending won’t stand up to scrutiny. Either way, students who are concerned with the rising fee should organize now to develop a comprehensive agenda aimed at controlling the fee growth for next years ASUO. Former ASUO President and Eugene City Councilor Bobby Lee spoke to the student Senate last week, and he emphasized the fact that time is the real enemy of student politics. It may, even now, be too late to prevent a considerable increase in next years fee, considering the excruciating wrangling that it would take to veto or vote down the PFC budget, and rework it. If this years ASUO has decided not to take up the fight for fiscal responsibility, than there should be no question but that this issue should be used against incumbents in the upcoming campaign.

  1. Doomscheissah says:

    But Timothy, you didn’t use the Federal RICO statutes.

    You simply used First Amendment. Look at Criminal prosecution, not civil prosecution. Because yes, OSPIRG (both of them) are committing felony racketeering.

    Anyone for a letter to Rudy Giuliani?

  2. Timothy says:

    We’ve tried that before, bloody 9th Circuit.

  3. Doomscheissah says:

    The first step for getting rid of waste is by cutting OSPIRG off completely.

    And there is a way it can be done.

    Anyone ever heard of the federal RICO Statutes? What OSPIRG is doing is a classic Racketeering operation.

  4. Jacque says:

    right you are Ken!

  5. daniels says:

    tax and spend, tax and spend

  6. Jacque says:

    I think that it is easy to target the large departments and contracted services because they have the largest overheard. While I agree that there is fat to be cut in many many places, (for example I just recived a pretty little glossy pamphlet from the EMU-their annual report! it had lots of pretty pictures…I don’t really care about all that…just the facts, you know?), there are so many areas that places like the Rec center can cut costs. I too hope that the Senate takes this benchmark seriously and encourage students to come forth with ideas, comments and questions about this issue since it is there money that is being spent!

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