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Student organizations will see changes to the way their budgets are allocated following the SGA’s reforms. Photo by Elizabeth Baummer.

SGA to reform their budget-planning process

The Student Government Association announced recently that they were proposing changes to their funds-allocation process. To ensure student organizations were aware of certain changes, a presentation was held on Monday, Feb. 22 during free hour where Daniel Wang, the chair of their Finance Board and financial economics major, discussed these new implementations that will affect fund distributions starting in the fall of 2019.

“The overall goal of the Finance Board is to distribute $275,000 to all of the student organizations on campus,” said Wang. In terms of the recent changes they are planning on pursuing, he noted, “We’re focusing on shifting planning budgets earlier; instead of coming to us a month before a scheduled event, organizations will submit a budget for the upcoming semester.”

Wang says that the Finance Board going over budgets through this process will ensure the money is properly allocated. It also allows student groups to spend their funds however they see fit, which means the Association will not put as much input into what organizations are placing their funds towards. Wang emphasized this Monday by explaining that the board will allow for groups to spend their funds however they wish so long as they meet university and SGA policies.

The leader of the Finance Board explained that in the past, information was passed down between members, which allowed for interpretations of policies to become muddied over time. An example of such is a university policy stating that non-exhaustible items cannot be purchased, because each purchase will need to be stored, which the SGA does not have room for. “The Finance Board used to let this policy slide, but now we can’t continue to let it go anymore.”

A crucial step Wang wants to take is to ensure that no student organizations get more money than they need to the point where other campus organizations are deprived. “Ten year ago, there was something called the House of Organizations, which did what the Finance Board does today – allocate money. However, student organizations would stack the Finance Committee of the house of Organizations.”

While the Board normally decides upon important decisions occasionally, from past experience of student organizations trying to lobby the Committee, the chair explains the Finance Board will implement “norms into the budgetary statues.” This ensures that paper trail follows organization’s spending while allowing for “legislation to pass for changes to occur.”

While that form of allocating money has since ceased, Wang notices some of those parallels today. In order to nip this in the bud, he is planning on setting forth a requirement that prevents the chair of the Finance Board from sitting on any Executive Boards within SGA.

At the financial presentation, Wang also discussed that 65% of funds will be guaranteed for on-campus activities while up to 25% will be directed towards off-campus events. The rest of the funding will go towards a Secondary Allocation System, which is currently planned to be used for emergencies and will then be considered for those of newer organization status and those with unforeseen funding issues.

Important dates discussed during the free-hour meeting include May 15, 2019, the deadline for groups turning in their Budget Request Packet for fall 2019. Meanwhile, July 1, 2019 is when student organizations can have access to their allocated funds.

In general, seven weeks after the commencing of a semester, deadlines are to be turned in for considering of spring 2020 funds; 30 days after the new semester, the Finance Board will get back in contact with organizations about their planned budget.

Wang stated he is planning for organizations to also have a liaison within the Finance Board in order to ensure that the groups are keeping in line with policies. “We’re looking to implement a liaison program, so every group would receive a Finance Board contact fund.” He also encourages people to apply to the Finance Board to help ensure that process, such as reforming the budgeting process, can run more smoothly.