USG caucus discusses budget deficit, future of funding

USG comptroller Parth Rana speaks during the Undergraduate Student Government caucus in the Torrey Life Science Building on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

After approving a projected operating deficit in its operating budget, the Undergraduate Student Government addressed concerns from senators at its caucus Wednesday.

Comptroller Parth Rana said that budgets often go through a cycle of deficit and surplus lasting about three years. This year represents a “plateau” in the budget, indicating that if there are no changes, the deficit could increase in the near future.

“It’s not going to be us that suffers,” Rana said. “It’s going to be student organizations.”

USG is currently operating at about $6,500 over budget. This is in addition to $70,000 in reserve funds which will be used in the event that other line items of the budget go over their allotted amounts. 

About half of the allotted money for most departments has already been used, which according to Rana, indicates a good spending prediction. Other committees have not started spending heavily, so funds may be moved from committees with excess to those where it is needed. 

Funding Board chair Stephen Porcello said at the last Senate that the committee has given more money to organizations this year than previous years through emergency funding. At the meeting, he encouraged senators to be prudent with their approval of legislative funding. 

There was also a proposed budget deficit approved for the Spring 2015 budget, but USG ended the fiscal year with a rollover of $470,000. Rana said that this rollover was because of student organizations not spending the money allocated to them.

“For the year before, we spent our money fairly well, for how we said we would spend it,” Rana said.

Rana said the rising deficit will not be a significant risk in the near future, if the trends continue. However, he said, “if we stay on the same trajectory, it will be an issue.”

USG aims to keep their rollover for each year as low as possible, an indicator that they budgeted accurately for the programs they run. But, with a negative balance, USG must operate using only student fees, a total of only $7-800,000 each semester, which Rana said is not enough. 

The organization, like other Tier 3 groups, has the ability to petition the Student Fee Advisory Committee to raise or lower student fees to facilitate their budget needs. 

In previous times of a deficit operating budget, changes had to be made in funding allocated to student organizations, president Rachel Conboy said. Some strategies included lowering the amount of funding approved for certain kinds of legislative requests and changing the funding request process to better anticipate how much students would need. Conboy said that the funding limit was raised back to the previous amount after the deficit passed.

Porcello said the results of the funding process from this semester will indicate if policies need to change for coming semesters. The funding approval process ends Oct. 30.


Nicholas Shigo is associate news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.shigo@uconn.edu.