Funding for student organizations was allocated an extra $50,000 Wednesday by the Undergraduate Student Government, bringing the total available to student organizations $800,000 and sending USG’s operating budget into a deficit.
The increase came as an amendment to the Fall 2015. Funding Board Chair Stephen Porcello proposed the amendment to ensure that all organizations can be funded throughout the semester.
“It would stink to have student groups not get funded,” Porcello said. “If we leave it the way it is, funding board will have to cut budgeted funds to stay within our budget.”
The budget was presented at senate with funding board receiving $750,000 for student organizations. Comptroller Parth Rana said that it was set because he “does not believe we will spend more than that.”
Student groups tend not to spend more than 60 to 70 percent of what is budgeted to them, and sometimes change plans to not use funds, according to Rana.
Increasing the budget for funding board in this way sends USG into an operating deficit of about $6,700 this semester. Porcello is not concerned about USG operating at a deficit. He said that the increase will divert funds from budgets that are rarely used in their entirety.
“There isn’t really a chance that [USG] will run out of money, but there is a chance Funding Board will,” he said.
Porcello said he came to the conclusion by looking at budget request summaries from student organizations from past years and comparing them to requests already submitted for this semester.
He said that $550,000 in funds has already been budgeted, with more expected for the rest of the year.
Other senators agreed to prioritize funding board over other expenses.
Towers residence hall senator Stephanie Sponzo said that USG should prioritize funding students “because it’s their money.” President Rachel Conboy said that revenue for the semester, already projected at over $1.2 million, is not finalized, and is likely to increase.
External affairs chair Daniel Byrd and executive director for Programs Rishita Jani spoke against the amendment. Byrd voiced concerns about USG going into the semester with a budget deficit, and Jani was against pulling funds away from other areas of the budget.
Porcello said that the $50,000 could be pulled from miscellaneous and executive budgets, which he said are rarely utilized fully. One area he suggested the money be moved from is legislative funding, or money given through acts of the senate to groups outside of normal funding procedure.
Pulling money from legislative requests would keep the changes within the funding board budget, Porcello said. He said the money for legislative funding has never been used in its entirety.
“$800,000 in my opinion is a little close,” Porcello said, “but we are dealing with a tight budget.”
Other programs funded include $5,000 for a symposium on open-source textbooks, $6,250 for a water bottle fill-station initiative and promotion and $65,000 for the Guard Dogs safe ride service.
Nicholas Shigo is associate news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.