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Appropriations Update: Spending Money Isn’t Always Easy

After all the “what would YOU spend a million bucks on?” hoopla, the “showers of money” posters, the facebook group, the endorsement of illegal proposals, and the general rush to spend this legendary wad of scrilla, the Senatee Appropriations process has officially broken down. Last Wednesday, the full Senate heard the two proposed “spending packages,” didn’t like what it saw, and sent them back to the Appropriations Committee to facilitate an entirely new process from the one laid out in Senate Bill 23.

SB23, which created the Appropriations process, was passed at the end of one of the most epic and controversial Senate meetings of the year, right after budget benchmarks were set. After the 4+ hour dogfight over benchmarks, nobody on Senate wanted to even discuss SB23, and the result was a deeply flawed process that has frustrated everyone involved, from Senators to those promoting the proposals. Since the “jam proposals into two random spending packages” process has failed, the Appropriations Committee has enacted a process in which some 20+ proposals will get 2 minutes to present, and then Senate will vote on proposals individually. Of course, this will violate the procedure they set up in SB23, and negates most of the work the Committee had done, but that’s their perogative. Since they were already in violations of SB23, the Appropriations Committee added two new proposal (Climate Neutral Campus and Miller Theater Complex) and amended one (MCC expansion, up from $160,000 to $300,000).

There are a number of major problems with this entire situation, some of them are obvious and others only should be obvious. The biggest problem is that there has been such an intense rush to spend this money as soon as possible, that no thought went into planning the process, and now Senate wants to spend it while making up the rules as they go along. There is no real reason that any of the money has to be spent before the arbitrary deadline in SB23 of next week, in fact, there’s no reason it has to be spent this year at all. When handing out nearly a million bucks, the most important consideration is that the process is fair and easily understood, and the current situation doesn’t meet either of those criteria.

A final problem is the fact that Senate has not publicized Green Tape Notebook rules on overrealized spending, and as a result, I fear that many of the proposals will not pass constitutional muster if approved. The GTN states that

Allocation of (Overrealized Fund) must only be used in accordance with the
following criteria:
(1) Address one-time, non-recurring expenses for which other funding sources are
not available or are inappropriate;
(2) Benefit large groups of students or to support projects with a broad base of
student support;
(3) Address issues of an emergency nature that have an impact on students;
(4) Respond to special or unique targets of opportunity, where investment of
resources will result in substantial savings of student fees;
(5) Reduction of fee collections. Currently enrolled students, ASUO recognized
student groups, and any programs or departments funded as a supplement to
the following year’s fee collections or as a source for student-recommended
fees are eligible to request and receive an allocation of over-realized funds.

The only proposal that really meets all of these requirements is the Student Recreation Center’s “Deficit Solution,” which requires about $200,000. This Wednesday, Senate needs to recognize that the appropriations process is broken, and rather than spending money because it’s there, and  because it feels good to spend money, Senate should focus on  reworking the process so that it is fair and y’know, constitutional. If Senate just has to spend something, spend on the Rec Center because the proposal actually meets the Constitutional requirements, and will protect a multi-million dollar investment of student funds.

  1. Miles says:

    Not to mention that the Multicultural Wing doesn’t need any more fscking money. Let’s fund the master plan, and the MC Wing can have their own places for agitprop.

  2. Jacque says:

    Daniels, I am really glad we were on Senate together.

  3. Niedermeyer says:

    Yeah, because you aren’t a Senator anymore…

  4. daniels says:

    Sounds like a fun time.

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