Oct 312011
Authors: Jason Pohl

A new measure coming before student government Wednesday will attempt to limit the direct power of the Associated Students of CSU’s executive branch when it comes to budgetary matters.

If passed, Bill 4110 would require the ASCSU president to get senate approval before making any budget adjustments. The first reading will be Wednesday, and it will be discussed for the upcoming three senate sessions.

Authors of the new bill say it will fix what they see as an “incomplete” process between branches of the student government.

“I think that students should have a say in how ASCSU spends its student fees,” said Jack Harries, an author of the bill. “Senators represent the student voice on campus, and we think it is important that that voice is heard when it comes to budget adjustments.”

As it currently stands, the president can make any budgetary adjustments deemed necessary without the expressed approval of senate.

Harries explained the bill was not made because of wrongdoing by the executive branch. Instead, he said it is a necessary measure in promoting strong relationships between branches of the government.

ASCSU President Eric Berlinberg echoed Harries’ statements regarding transparency and cooperation between branches –– something he has advocated since elected in April.

But he recognized an urgent time factor in determining the budgets in the spring.

Under the current system, the administration is voted into office the first Wednesday in April. From there, they only have five days to complete their budget, which explains how student fees will be used for services including RamRide and the annual Grill the Buffs program on the plaza.

The Student Fee Review Board, Student Funding Board and the ASCSU Senate must then approve the budget.

“There simply is not enough time to create an exact budget with the information available at that time,” Berlinberg said. “Changes happen quickly and are typically minimal.”

Berlinberg said new initiatives and programs requiring funds come up throughout the year as ASCSU works to accommodate the students’ needs.

These changes are at the heart of the issue raised by the members of the Senate, and authors of the bill maintain it is fair and representative of the students, who the government ultimately serves.
“We think that this bill gives the president enough flexibility,” Harries said.

Allison McVey, a senator and sponsor of the bill, said those serving in Senate take their job very seriously and recognize a need for accountability and a say in the budgeting process.

She said this is especially important because, as it stands now, there is nothing in the ASCSU constitution that explicitly explains the process the president must follow when transferring funds across departments.

“Senate is the voice that communicates what students want their fees to pay for,” said Allison McVey, a senator and sponsor of the bill. “When reallocation of funds occurs, students need to have a voice in where their money is being spent.”

Berlinberg recognized the concerns of the senators, and he said that he supports the measures as a step toward better communication and shared governance –– another platform he has advocated since the election last spring.

“I firmly believe in fiscal transparency and intend to continue to find additional ways to involve Senate in finances while simultaneously protecting the concept of separation of powers,” Berlinberg said.

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:34 pm

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