The Undergraduate Student Government recently put forward its budget for the next two years last week, which notably featured cuts across all committees. In previous years, USG has had large surpluses due to money left over each semester. As such, there have been strong pushes by USG to encourage student groups to make use of these funds and committees have been able to put together some really large events for the benefit of the student population.
However, this increase is finally catching up with the student government. USG is now spending more than they are receiving each semester, meaning the amount that carries over from semester to semester has been decreasing. The continuation of this trend would lead to a deficit by the 2019 fiscal year. The new USG budget aims to bring down spending much closer to what they receive from student fees each year.
These actions highlight the maturity and fiscal responsibility of the organization. USG leadership identified that this would be a problem before it became a serious issue, and is now taking appropriate steps. It is not especially difficult to increase the amount of money that a group spends. But once spending is it at a set level that people are familiar with, it can be difficult to reduce. Events and initiatives that may not have existed a few years ago are now ones that committees can’t imagining functioning without. Any cuts are likely to meet with strong resistance, even if the long-term goals are admirable.
This was evident at the Senate meeting where the budget was approved, as two separate committees asked for budget increases for events they planned on hosting. One was approved, citing other budget reductions that committee had recently made, while the other was voted down. It is extremely difficult to vote down an increase asked for by colleagues and friends, especially when they are a “drop in the bucket” compared to the total budget. Nevertheless this move sets an important precedent and it is clear that the USG Senate is prepared to make tough decisions and prioritize the economic future of the organization. USG should get credit for not simply kicking the problem down the line. They have taken action, and set an example that future senators should follow. In the years to come USG must to continue to act fiscally responsible.