UPDATE (4/19 at 7:18 p.m.): At the Finance Committee meeting last night, the Committee voted for a budget cut of 12.815 percent for all Executive Agencies except Student Legal Services, which will be funded proportionally to the number of undergraduates it serves, according to SGA VP of Finance Jason Yu (17B). The decrease in estimated cuts from about 20 to 12.815 percent was because Club Sports overestimated its budget, Yu said.
The 51st Legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) convened Monday night to finalize amendments to the Finance Code and vote on updates to the Student Activity Fee (SAF) split.
SGA passed Bill 51sl02, which would cut Executive Agency (EA) budgets by about 20 percent, with five votes in favor and one abstention. The bill updates the SAF split to reflect the Jan. 31 University-wide referendum that split SGA into autonomous graduate and undergraduate branches, and received five votes in favor and one abstention. The bill will go through one more round of votes at the next meeting per the SGA Finance Code, Part VII which stipulates that any amendment to the Finance Code requires two consecutive votes.
The proposed changes to the SAF split would cut EA budgets by about 25 percent each, decreasing the total macro fund to $712,000 from last year’s $937,000 for the upcoming academic year.
The SAF split determines how the SAF is disbursed to divisional councils, EAs and student organizations. EAs include Student Programming Council, Media Council, Club Sports, Outdoor Emory and TableTalk, all of which were previously known as University-wide organizations before the SGA-GSGA split but have since been changed to EAs designations.
“We’ve tried to minimize the amount that EAs will have to lose, and this is extremely difficult because we still have to make sure our central accounts are funded and that we have enough to work off of,” outgoing Vice President of Finance Jason Yu (17B) said. “But I think that it’s an adjustment that [EAs are] going to have to make. We’re not going to be able to have temporary funding for them anymore.”
The graduate school council contributed 24 percent of the macro account prior to the split, which funds EAs, OrgSync among other administrative functions. Now that GSGA is no longer under SGA, it is no longer required to contribute to SGA’s macro account. However, GSGA offered to fund half of the business office for both groups and part of OrgSync, according to Yu.
The Finance Committee decided how to allocate the approximately $571,000 of the macro account to EAs Tuesday night and will report the exact amounts to SGA in next week’s meeting, Yu said, adding that he expects about 20 percent in budget cuts across all EAs. If SGA gave the same amount of funding to EAs that they had received in past years, Yu said that SGA would have a deficit of about $150,000. The allocations will be based on the EAs’ programming plans and past received amounts.
Although fee splits are usually amended in the fall, the recent student government split required a new fee split which would to adequately fund SGA’s central services, according to Yu.
Funding for undergraduate divisional councils will remain unchanged, according to Yu.
Five legislators voted unanimously to pass for the second time Bill 51sl01, which amends the Finance Code to reflect the student government split.
The amended Finance Code gives EAs one collective vote on the Finance Committee to prevent SGA representatives from being outnumbered.
The Finance Code changes also transfer the undergraduate student contingency account (USCA) to the Finance Committee, which will administer the account and allocate supplemental funding to student organizations. The amended Finance Code also codifies the SGA vice president of finance’s position on the Joint Governance Committee (JGC), a body of SGA and GSGA executive members who meet to address University-wide issues. Furthermore, the updated Code separates the original $92 divisional travel cap into transportation and lodging caps of $92 each.
The two caps will total a divisional budget of $184 per student. The split was suggested by many divisional councils that felt the single travel cap was too restrictive, according to Yu.
“Previously, if a club received, say, $300 to travel from a division, they wouldn’t be able to use $300 — SGA would only let them reimburse up to $92, no matter what the division decides to give them, because SGA governing rules trumped divisional governing rules,” Yu said. “$92 doesn’t make sense because everybody is just going to ask for exceptions, and it’s better to have something that we can enforce more consistently instead of having to always make exceptions.”
Correction (4/19 at 7:15 p.m.): The original headline, “SGA Cuts Executive Agency Budgets By at Least 20 Percent,” was changed to reflect that the cuts still need to be voted on next week.