The Undergraduate Student Government has already used more than $20,000 to fulfill legislative, or emergency funding requests for student organizations since the beginning of the year, according to Comptroller Parth Rana.
Legislative funding constitutes funds that are allocated by students through an act of senate. These emergency funds can be applied for when extenuating circumstances prevent the student organization from applying during the regular funding period.
This represents more than half of the allocated $40,000 for legislative request for the semester. Rana said that senate has never approved this much funding so early in the semester. USG usually approves only about $24,000 in legislative requests in one semester.
“It’s troublesome to think that we might run out and student groups on the back end won’t be able to apply,” Rana said.
While the concern was raised that the Funding Board may run out of funds, chairman Stephen Porcello was not worried. He said being roughly halfway through the semester and halfway through the funds indicates the correct allocation.
USG is currently operating in a deficit of approximately $6000, as approved by senate earlier this year. Porcello said that this deficit is very small compared to the total budget and will most likely be lessened by lack of spending in other items on the budget.
“We’re going to be using less in most of them [items], than expected,” Porcello said.
He does not expect USG to be in a deficit by the end of the semester. Other items on the budget may be moved around to ensure every initiative is funded adequately.
“More funds can be added to the line item if necessary,” Rana said, “or retracted from it if we want to be hardasses.”
A discussion on amending the budget to reflect these concerns is scheduled for next week’s caucus. Rana wanted to include more senators in the discussion to more accurately represent University of Connecticut students, not just USG Executive Board members.
Porcello and Rana attributed this increase in funding to more transparency and greater accessibility of the emergency funding process to student organizations. Students are more aware of the funding process, Rana said, allowing them to access funding even when unforeseen circumstances prevent them from doing it with standard funding practices.
Rana said that this could represent an upward trend in the amount of legislative funding USG does. As the system becomes more transparent and accessible, more groups will apply for funding.
Legislative requests will still be presented to senate at the discretion of senators authoring the legislation. However, senators were encouraged to ensure funding requests could not have legitimately been done during regular applications before approving them.
“We don’t want to turn down a group because that is one individual acting for an organization,” Rana said.
He encouraged letting senate decide with a vote to allocate funds to each student organization.
Two legislative requests were made and approved at Wednesday’s senate. Approximately $6000 went to the UConn chapter of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists for their yearly national meeting and $700 was approved for the Women’s Lacrosse Club for a tournament in February.
Senator Stephanie Sponzo, author of one of the bills, responded to criticism of funding such a large amount for the ASCP chapter by saying the announcement of the heavy legislative funding spending came after the legislation was authored.
“I don’t think this group should be penalized for that,” she said.
Nicholas Shigo is associate news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.