Leg Roundup: Alternatives to UCSB AS Budget Woes Focus of Feb. 1 Meeting


Tim Fucci
AS Beat Reporter

A budget report to the University of California Santa Barbara Associated Students Legislative Council on the evening of Feb. 1 painted a dismal fiscal picture for AS organizations next year prompting discussion for alternative solutions to an anticipated budget shortfall.

In a presentation by AS Finance Board to the council, it was announced that AS will have a total $9.5 million at its disposal for the 2012-2013 school year, yet just $418,524 dollars will be available next year to fill the budget of executive offices, every Board, Committee or Commission and finance board’s unallocated account, which gives money to student organizations at their request.

Much of the $9.5 million must endure a complicated budgeting process and is divided by university designated fees and AS department and designated fees, including covering the salary of AS staff members and office expenses. That leaves these organizations with about $313,000 dollars, or about 40 percent less, than was available to them for this school year.

“I don’t want to induce panic…or cause panic in the association,” said Finance Board member and business economics and political science double major Raul Martinez, who presented to the council. “I want to be proactive about having roughly the same figures as we did this year.”

Martinez said there are several alternatives worth pursing in the wake of the budget reduction. One alternative, Martinez said, was for student groups to not fiscally expand beyond on their annual budget.

“We make tough calls that we wish we didn’t have to make,” said Martinez. “Every committee and every entity has a budget so its really difficult for us when a group comes in and presents and we allocate them a certain amount of money during budget hearings and they come back to [leg council] asking for more money…”

Martinez also cautioned the legislative council to be aware of the fiscal impact of approving new BCCs, as this would cause an additional financial burden.

On the heels of the report, Martinez announced that Finance Board plans to pursue a six dollar–per-quarter student lock-in fee during the spring AS elections to counter the deficit from years past. If approved by students, the finance board lock-in fee would generate about $309,000. According to Martinez, that money would be used strictly to fund student groups.

In her weekly executive address, AS Internal Vice President Chloe Stryker said she is looking into cutting the honoraria of BCCs as an additional alternative to next year’s expected 40 percent budget shortfall.

“Last year there was a lot of outcry over the budget because almost every single BCC and AS office got cut by half and now we’re looking at $300,000 less,” said Stryker. “Honoraria committee has met and we have a set of recommendations that we have and we’re going to be going to every BCC. If we keep honoraria at what it is now- its upwards of about $200,000- we could potentially be paying half of AS’ budget on honoraria. So we’re looking into a lot of change this year.”

In the past decade AS has grown significantly by initiating new student organizations and events. However, in the wake of the global financial crisis and budget cuts from the state of California to the University of California system, UCSB AS has been forced to narrow its scope.

AS budget hearing will be held sometime in winter quarter, though no official date has been set.