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USG approves large budget for spring

By Jacqueline Wattles
On January 30, 2013

  • USG President Stephen Petkis speaks, while Shiv Ganghi, left, and David Rifkin, right, sit on the panel at the USG meeting on Wednesday night. USG unanimously approved a large budget for the spring semester at the meeting. SANTIAGO PELAEZ/The Daily Campus

USG unanimously approved a budget for the spring 2013 semester on Wednesday night.

With a more than $250,000 surplus from the previous semester, and $20,000 in a reserve fund that can be used to supplement new initiatives or student organizations that missed funding in the fall, this semester's budget is markedly robust, according to Comptroller Edward Courchaine.

"We are funding more in this semester than we ever have," Courchaine said. "We have had more requests than ever before, and our new funding structure handles this influx better."
This semester is the first in which additional funding can be given to Tier II student organizations, such as club sports, by applying for money from a "reserve fund," which was allocated to the funding board by the comptroller. The new system requires organizations to contact a senator and have a bill drafted. The organizations can get funding if the bill receives two sponsors and passes a Senate vote.

Courchaine reiterated Senate Speaker Shiv Gandhi's comments at the informal senate meeting last week. The new funding system aims to provide an easier, more efficient method of allocating funds.

"We don't necessarily want to fund more dollars, we want to fund more initiatives," Couchaine said.

The surplus budget, which currently holds $250,086.98, can be used for planned or coincidental initiatives by USG. Though the fund has already been allocated out to various USG budget line items, the reserve fund can grow. The comptroller has the ability to allocate more funds to the reserve, and the reserve is expected to fluctuate. Student organizations that come in under budget or do not spend their allocated funds are required to return the money to USG. The money can then be reallocated to student organizations via the reserve fund.
Funding Board Chair John Giardina said he expects the reserve fund will grow a least a little bit throughout the semester, and though this is the first year, he is optimistic the reserve fund will be adequate to fund the priorities among Tier II organizations.

"Because this is the first time we've done this, we don't have a frame of reference on the reserve fund," Giardina said. "But this is not inordinately low. There should be enough to fund exceptionally important and useful requests."

Student Body President Stephen Petkis briefly addressed USG's Spring Weekend policy during his address to the Senate. He reiterated that the plan is not to bring back the notorious three-day partying weekend, but rather to turn it into "a positive thing for the community."

Petkis said the Friday of Spring Weekend will be dedicated to various community service projects and Saturday will have "carnival-like" festivities. The funding for Spring Weekend will come from a portion of the executive budget, which contains $71,249.32 total. 

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