SGA passes 11th hour budget changes

A stipend committee formed last week by the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Joint Finance Committee (JFC) introduced to Tuesday’s legislative sessions a last-minute student stipend policy affecting many Tier 2 organizations. The policy, which included significant cuts to paid student positions in Student Publications and Interfraternity Council (IFC), made its way into the 2009-10 fiscal year budgets approved in the Tuesday meetings of the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) and Graduate Student Senate (GSS). Since each branch passed different versions of the budget, they will be reconciled by a conference committee today.

The temporary stipend committee, formed last week after the initial release in March of the JFC budget recommendations, established new payment levels for Tier 2 student organization stipends being funded by SGA. Tier 2 organizations include DramaTech, graduate and undergraduate SGA, IFC, Intramurals, MOVE, Musician’s Network, ORGT, President’s Council Governing Board, Student Center Programs Council, Student Publications and WREK radio. Unlike Tier 3 organizations, Tier 2 organizations may fund student positions and are not required to collect membership fees.

The JFC’s Student Stipend Committee outlined six different spending tiers for student stipend funding. The maximum pay for each tier is calculated from in-state student tuition and fees. For next year, this amount has been set at $6,480. Positions in the first stipend tier will receive a stipend equaling 100 percent of tuition and fees, second-tier positions will receive 75 percent, all the way to sixth-tier positions at five percent.

The SGA student body presidents are the only two Tier 1 positions. Some of the Tier 2 positions include the SGA executive vice presidents, the Editor-in-Chief of the Technique and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) president. At the bottom, Tier 6 positions include assistant editors, staff writers and photographers for the Technique and Blueprint.

The impact of these new rules was that both the UHR and GSS recommended that most positions in Tier 2 would receive less than the amount their student organizations requested.

All SGA stipend positions saw no reduction in payment, and in the GSS, the senators recommended that the SGA president and executive vice president positions receive raises of $621 and $1,804, respectively.

This is the second week that SGA discussed next year’s budget. Last week the budget for Tier 3 organizations was up for debate, and this week, Tier 2 and Tier 1 organizations were debated.

In a move that prompted an appearance by former, current and newly-selected future editor-in-chief of the Blueprint, the Blueprint’s printing budget had been cut in the original JFC recommendations to $0, down from $60,000 requested. According to a member of the JFC at the UHR meeting, the $0 recommendation was meant to prompt the organization to develop a plan to reduce their printing costs. The organization was encouraged to submit a finance bill in the fall. There was some debate in the UHR on restoring some of the funding for printing. In the end, UHR granted the Blueprint reduced printing costs while GSS maintained that the Blueprint would receive no money in the budget and should submit a funding request in the fall.

In another high-dollar move, the GSS cut most of the recommended funding for IFC. UHR recommended that IFC get $29,078, but the graduates cut the amount to $1,974.