Student Senate Budget Week 2020
Author: Parker Ridaught
The Student Senate’s budget committee spent the week of October 5th, 2020 allocating funds for SGA’s 2021-2022 fiscal year. The committee spent Monday-Thursday conducting budget hearings, where organizations present their requests, and conducted deliberations on Friday. After deliberations, the committee constructed an allocations bill, which was then sent to the Student Senate floor and voted on by the full Student Senate the following week.
During hearings, campus organizations presented their requested amount during their allotted time slot. Presentations lasted up to 10 minutes, followed by committee members having up to 5 minutes to ask questions on requested budgets. Organizations requested funds in categories of Salary, OPS (Other Personal Services) Wages, Contractual Services, Expense, Food, and Clothing and Awards, all of which added up to an organization’s total amount of funds requested. Not all organizations requested funds in each category. For example, an organization could request funds for contractual services while having zero requested in food.
The Student Senate has a $13,790,000 budget that it can allocate, which stays roughly consistent from year to year. The money comes from Activities and Service fees, which is a subcategory in student tuition payments. Students pay $12.86 per credit hour into Activities and Services fees, which amounts to roughly $400 per year for a full-time student. The amount of funds requested among all organizations for this upcoming fiscal year totaled $15,113,089.30, about $1.3 million more than what is available. Therefore, one of the most important parts of the hearing process was committee members asking each organization for the part of their budget that they would be most willing to have reduced.
After hearings, the next step of the budget process was deliberations, which is when the committee discusses how much funding each organization receives. Budget committee members looked at funds requested for the year at hand as well as budget allocations from past fiscal years, the fiscal responsibility of an organization, an organization’s preferred reduction area, and costs to continue to develop new programming and advocacy initiatives. Since over $1.3 million needed to be cut from this year’s requests, most organizations were allocated less funding than they requested, although the reduction was relatively diversified. In order to make cuts, the committee discussed their priorities in terms of allocations, and decided how much they believed an organization's request could be cut while still being able to function. Consistently during deliberations, the committee was committed to allocating money towards areas where students would see their dollar benefit them the most.
During deliberations, which were open to the public and took up the entirety of the business day on Friday, October 9th, the committee first went line by line, allocating funds to see if there was any space for an increase or decrease in the amount requested. Motions were entertained and debated in order to approve funding for each organization in each category. Allocated categories could be amended at any time during deliberations.
The two largest organizations to present at budget week, in terms of the total amount of funding both requested and allocated, were Campus Recreation and the Oglesby Union. Even with cuts from the requested amount, the two organizations combined to make up roughly 75 percent of the total funds allocated.
The conclusion of deliberations and an allocated budget finalized by the committee meant that the 2021 Budget Allocation Bill could be submitted to the Student Senate floor. The bill was on the Senate floor for a week, giving senators a chance to review it prior to voting on it. The bill was first given to the 72nd Student Senate on October 14th, 2020 and voted on at the October 21st Student Senate meeting, where it passed unamended. The bill notes that, “in the event of shortfalls or excesses, the Vice President of Student Affairs, the SGA Advisor, the Student Senate President, and the Student Body President shall meet to review options.” Additionally, the bill includes special instructions on the budget process that students can transparently see at the bottom of the bill. The full budget and minutes from Budget Week 2020 can be found online on the Student Government Association website.
The tables below show the amount of funds requested by each organization during budget hearings versus the amount those organizations received during the allocation process. The total requested amount comes from the 2020-2021 Student Senate budget requests booklet. Additionally, the table shows the percent difference between what an organization requested and received. Underneath the tables are the total amounts requested and allocated among all organizations. As noted above, the need to cut a significant amount of total requested funds meant many organizations received slightly less than what they requested.
There are many categories and organizations receiving funding, including the Student Government agencies and bureaus. The agencies provide support for and education on specific identity groups. The agencies include student unions to represent Asian American students, Black students, Hispanic/Latinx students, LGBTQ+ students, Veteran students and Women. The bureaus are administrative divisions for educating, representing, and facilitating programming for special interest groups. Some bureaus include the Inter-Residence Hall Council (IRHC), which represents students who live on campus, and the Student Council for Undergraduate Research and Creativity (SCURC), which advocates for student research. WVFS-89, under “Affiliated Projects,” is FSU’s radio station. Under “Funding Boards,” RTAC is the Resource for Travel Allocations Committee, which provides travel expenses for students attending conferences. The Congress of Graduate Students, or COGS, is listed in the “Other Requests'' section and represents graduate students at FSU. The full funding breakdown is illustrated in the tables below:
Total Requested Funds, all Organizations: $15,113,089.39
Total Allocated Funds, all Organizations: $13,790,000.00
For further information about the budget allocation process, we encourage students to reach out to their Student Senate leadership or contact either the Torchlight Director of Legislative Affairs or the author of our budget summary piece. We encourage all students to submit research requests to our organization via our Qualtrics form, and stay engaged by attending Student Senate meetings every Wednesday night at 7:30pm.