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Senate Report 2/21/07: ADFC Budget, Surplus Reform, SRC

 Blah blah blah after the jump.

As Student Senate meetings go, this was a good one. The major success of the evening was the fact that the meeting didn’t last for more than two hours, a feat rarely accomplished by the body. The fact that major progress was made on a number of fronts was simply the icing on the cake.

The achievement of the evening, was without doubt, the approval of the ADFC budget. You see, ADFC Senators Kyle McKenzie, Natalie Kinsey, Drew Pinson, and later in the year, Erica Anderson have this concept which is entirely novel in the ASUO, and it goes like this: we should determine the need for services before we automatically fund them at the previous years level… crazy stuff for sure.  Because the Pac-10 added another home game to next years schedule, the ADFC was looking at a huge budget increase, which was benchmarked by the Senate at the mandatory cap of 7% growth. Now, with PFC we define success as being one or two points above the benchmark, but these ADFC kids are a crazy bunch; not only did they accomodate the unexpected home game, but they literally brought their budget in at half of the benchmark, for a 3.5% increase. Perhaps some old-timers might be able to correct me, but this seem like a historically unprecedented achievement by an ASUO finance committee. How did they do it, you ask? Was it black magic? Did they hire the Enron accountants? Nope, they did their homework, compared tickets distributed to tickets collected at the gate, and cut tickets for the games where students weren’t using them. Revolutionary stuff. I could go on and on about this, but suffice it to say that some minds were blown in the boardroom, and the budget was passed unanimously. If anyone needs me, I will be rounding up every copy of the Winter Issue and changing the ADFC Senator’s grades to A+’s. You people have set the standard for how the ASUO should be doing business.

Senator McKenzie was on a roll last night, and he wasn’t about to be stopped. Rather than resting on his considerable ADFC laurels, McKenzie introduced Senate Bill 29 (link as soon as the Senate gets it up) which would close a loophole which allows groups to inflate their event fundraising profit with Incidental Fee surplus money. Under the current system, groups who are holding a fundraising event can request surplus money to fund the event, and then pocket all of the revenue raised at the event. Bill 28 would create earmarked accounts of surplus money, which would allow groups to deficit spend on fundraising events, but would require them to reimburse Senate for the sum that they “borrowed.” In other words, instead of simply granting a surplus request so that groups can maximize the profits that go into their fundraising accounts, the Senate will require reimbursement of the funds spent over the pre-set line item. This deceptively simple reform is a much needed step, to curb what has become an accepted practice of using surplus money to throw a larger event than a group can afford, in order to gain more profit, amounting to a fundraising subsidy. Large portions of the Senate utterly failed to understand the effects this bill would have, and so it was sent to the Finance Committee to create an “Idiots guide to SB28” prior to final approval. McKenzie my man, I’m sorry I ever questioned you.

The Senate also discussed, and sent to Rules Committee Senate Bill 29 (I may have the numbers of these bills backwards, I will update when I get links),  which will move the Student Rec Center from Incidental Fee funding to a special fee like the one that funds the Health Center. This bill was not widely enough discussed to be worth commenting on at great length, but a few reactions were worth noting. First, the concern that this move would hand the SRC over to forces far less benevolent than the PFC were raised. This is laughable, considering the fact that the PFC has been utterly unable to curb SRC spending, and when they did try to impose limits on SRC budget growth, it only exacerbated problems (admittedly the PARS administrators are equally to blame… read all about it in “Rec Center Runaround” in the Winter Issue.) Another concern was that students wouldn’t have a voice in the operations and budget of the SRC. Again, if PFC were doing a good job of it now, I might take these concerns seriously. Leave it to the PFC to put a conservative in the position of preferring the devil he doesn’t know to the devil he does. In any event, more debate will be needed, and full copies of the bills should be made publicly available. To be perfectly honest, I was so jazzed about the ADFC budget and surplus reform that I barely listened to this stuff, as important as it is. We will continue to cover this story as it develops.

  1. Niedermeyer says:

    If you are reading this, you know more about the ASUO than you should. Run for office. An informational meeting is being held tonight (thursday the 22nd) at 7pm in Esslinger 105. Go to it.

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