The ASUCD budget hearings took place this weekend, starting Friday evening and concluding late Sunday night.
The budget hearings allow for the ASUCD Senate to approve or make modifications to the over $10 million ASUCD budget. A wide variety of campus institutions, from the ASUCD Coffee House to the post office, receive funding in this way.
“This is a very conservative budget,” ASUCD Controller Paul Harms said. Units constructed their proposed budgets for the coming year to be as realistic as possible in order to prepare for the year after, when ASUCD is expected to suffer losses, he said.
The meeting began with a discussion of the budget for the Coffee House, which is expected to have a slight increase in expenditures for the coming year, unit director Sharon Coulson said.
The increase is attributed to rising food costs as well as the 2008-2009 school year being the first full year with a minimum wage of $8 an hour. The extensive remodeling of the establishment is not expected to affect service until June 2009, so its impact on the budget is minimal.
Discussion then moved to the Aggie Student Store, which has been doing better financially in recent years, Harms said. The unit, which was previously losing approximately $40,000 per year, is now turning a profit.
Also discussed on Friday was the Unitrans portion of the budget. The representatives talked about some specific changes that will be made in the upcoming year. Specifically, there will be an increase in service to North Sycamore as that area has been heavily impacted this year by the large number of sophomores. They also plan to streamline the P/Q lines to make the routes quicker and more efficient, and changes will also be made to the L line.
Additionally, Unitrans will be acquiring some new buses in the next year, including new European style buses as well as some new double-decker buses. These purchases will be funded by outside resources, not by students. The representative talked about the new passenger terminal on Hutchison Drive, which they expect to finish by the end of summer.
Also approved on Friday were budgets for the Experimental College, Whole Earth Festival, Administrative General and Post Office.
One of the more hotly debated budget topics was that of Cal Aggie Camp.
An increase in their budget for T-shirt money for the camp was questioned by ASUCD Senator Joe Chatham.
“We have to evaluate our priorities,” Chatham said. He argued that T-shirts should not be a priority for a unit that doesn’t directly affect many UC Davis students.
“Our student body is bigger than 37 people” Chatham said.
Other senators defended the T-shirt budget allocation.
“Not many of our units change people’s lives,” said Senator Chad Roberts, speaking about the importance of this philanthropy.
ASUCD President Ivan Carrillo argued that the experience received at the camp is partly due to T-shirts. On the last day, participants get the opportunity to sign each other’s T-shirts. Carrillo spoke about how much that means to the kids and Austin Merrill said he knows of participants who highly value their shirts all year.
Senator Lula Ahmed-Falol called Chatham’s suggestion of eliminating T-shirts from the budget “ridiculous.”
The budget was closed without changes.
The senate unanimously approved the Bike Barn, Book Exchange, Creative Media, Refrigerator Services, KDVS, Picnic Day, Entertainment Council, AS PAPERs, Cal Aggie Hosts and AGTV budgets on Saturday morning. Even though AGTV has its own budget, the unit will still be under the guidance of Creative Media.
Creative Media cut its business manager and summer graphic artists. Though the Book Exchange has lost popularity over the past several years, it still came back with a profit of $14,500.
Much of the Sunday hearings were devoted to discussion about the ASUCD Student Adviser position, which was eliminated after more than four hours of discussion.
The position offers a $30,000 salary including benefits. The topic was opened by Carrillo, who asked the senators to keep personal feelings out of the discussion when making the decision.
Current Student Government Administrative Office adviser Mike Tucker defended the need for his position, where he works 32 hours a week.
“I offer an unbiased opinion and help mitigate the disconnect between ASUCD and the student body,” he said.
Harms asked how much of the 32 hours Tucker works was active work and how much was down time. Tucker replied there could be no definite number to be given because it depends how many questions students have for him.
Senators were concerned that an adviser offers unbiased help during elections and helps students transition to senator positions much more efficiently, especially for minority slate senators.
“The color of my T-shirt does not mean something personal to me, but it does to some people, and what they call loyalty to their party is unfairness,” ASUCD Senator Rebecca Lovell said. “Sometimes I felt uncomfortable entering a room where everyone is wearing a red T-shirt. Mike Tucker was someone I could go to when I felt uncomfortable.”
A half-hour break was called at 4:15 p.m. to ease the tension rising in the room. A budget taking $30,000 from across the ASUCD student campus from areas such as paid student jobs was written up as a proposal of what could be done if the position is kept.
Senators said the impact of the budget cuts should be minimal to the student body, and ASUCD should assume the brunt of the cut and shoulder the increase of responsibility that will come in the future.
“The senators are put in a tough position, and unfortunately, I am the beneficiary of the decision,” Tucker said in an interview with The Aggie before the proposed budget was approved.
Eliminating the $30,000 position is the largest cut of the $50,000 mandatory ASUCD budget cut needed for next year.
Other units who had their budgets approved Sunday include University Affairs, Lobby Corps, City County Affairs, Pathfinder, Campus Center for the Environment, Student Government, the offices of the president and vice president, Grants and The California Aggie.
The budget will now be introduced by Carrillo as Senate Bill 1 at the senate meeting Thursday and is expected to pass after some discussion.
A variety of campus and city writers contributed to this article. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org