Student Government Association (SGA) President Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) vetoed the government’s administrative budget, which was passed by the previous legislature and signed by former SGA President Gurbani Singh (18B), leading to questions over the constitutionality of Ma’s move.
The administrative budget covers operational expenditures incurred by SGA. Ma told SGA on Monday that he vetoed the budget because the miscellaneous supplies and printing budgets were too high.
Ma presented the alternative budget for first readings to the legislature. Ma’s proposed budget reduces the miscellaneous supplies budget from $9,652 to $4,500 and the printing budget from $1,520 to $520. Savings from the new administrative budget will go into the macro account to provide more funding for clubs, Ma said.
The bill calls to “temporarily [waive] any applicable finance code rules” and adds that doing so is permitted because the SGA Constitution supersedes the Finance Code.
Dwight’s veto is unconstitutional, according to Singh, former SGA Speaker of the Legislature and Senior Representative William Palmer (18C) and former SGA Attorney General Elias Neibart (20C).
The vice president of finance of the prior legislature must propose an administrative budget for the next legislature prior to SGA elections each year, according to Part 2, Section 6 of the Finance Code. The previous legislature approved the 2018-19 administrative budget of $27,458.80 on April 3.
Neibart said at Monday’s meeting that the veto and any bill replacing it is unconstitutional because Singh already signed it.
“I really need to jump in because this is two weeks in a row where you guys showed a disregard for the rules,” Neibart said. “That bill was approved by [Singh], and it was sent to be operationalized for the next coming year. The bill was … passed. Dwight can’t veto that bill. It’s done.”
After Neibart’s comments, the meeting was adjourned because SGA’s room reservation had ended.
“This is a sham,” Neibart said.
Neibart, who lost the SGA presidential run-off against Ma, was not selected to be the SGA attorney general, according to Ma. Ma told the Wheel on April 18 that SGA Executive Vice President John Priddy (19C) preferred that Neibart serve a second term as attorney general, but Ma said he preferred Elliot Ji (20C), who has no prior SGA experience. Priddy did not respond to request for comment by publication time.
Former SGA Freshman Representative Austin Graham (21C) said that if the veto is legitimate, he will submit a challenge to the Constitutional Council requesting that the veto and proposed budget be suspended.