The ASUCD budget is officially set in place for the 2008-2009 school year as of Thursday’s senate meeting. The budget, in bill form, was passed unanimously.
The association was faced with $50,000 in cuts to the overall budget for units such as Unitrans, Coffee House, KDVS and the Bike Barn. Overall, ASUCD works with a budget of $9.2 million and employs approximately 1,500 students.
The large cut caused slight controversy, as some units received an increased budget, while others’ were decreased.
“Everyone going into this year knew this was going to be a bad cut, said Ivan Carrillo, ASUCD president, author of the bill and senior history major. “Any time someone gets cut, there’s going to be some kind of emotions, but we talked to the directors and they were perfectly fine [with the budget].”
One position in particular, the ASUCD student government adviser, was cut completely from the association. The adviser offered unbiased help to all student government members and completed paperwork for ASUCD.
Michael Tucker has been the student government adviser since November 2005 with a salary of $30,000 per year, plus benefits. The cost of keeping Tucker employed would have compromised the student body’s overall budget, said Paul Harms, ASUCD controller and junior managerial economics major.
“We needed to make the cut,” Harms said. “We felt that was the area of the budget we could cut because it would have the least severe impact on the student body.”
However the cut was not met with complete approval. ASUCD senators Chris Dietrich and Joe Chatham at first felt that cutting Tucker’s position would eliminate a vital role in the student government’s politics.
“My concern is that we lose some objectivity and stability that he provided,” said Chatham, sophomore international relations major. “The way it’s going to work now is that [matters of student government] will be more subject to partisan control. With that person there, they can bring a level of continuity.”
Despite the concern, the senate approved the cut and those opposed authored a resolution to honor the work of Tucker.
The portion of the budget that was the least affected by the cuts was Cal Aggie Camp, a summer camp for underprivileged and inner-city youth. They received a $4,000 increase in order to fund T-shirts and more counselors.
Though none of the senators challenged the benefits of the camp, during the budget hearing, there was some debate over the increase.
“It’s not really an appropriate time for that with all the other budget cuts in the school,” Chatham said.
On the other hand, a majority of the senators viewed the camp as an important philanthropic event that is vital to sustaining UC Davis’ sense of community.
The ASUCD Coffee House’s income was also increased as a result of the rising costs of food and gasoline. Student salaries will remain the same, and ASUCD aims to keep food prices low as well.
“In the budget, we predict that they will spend as much as they bring in,” Harms said. “The coffee house will never bring in exactly as much as they spend, but this goes back to fundamentally what a budget is – a goal.”
The unit that received the most cuts was the student government, said Amy Hartstein, chair of the internal affairs commission and sophomore international relations major.
“[The student government’s] job is to protect,” Hartstein said. “Cuts to things like the bike barn or KDVS are more visible student units. It’s our responsibility to make sure the student body is the least affected of anyone.”
All senators felt that the budget was fair, for the most part, and put differences aside in Thursday’s meeting.
“In our economy, it is hard enough for non-students to find jobs so I felt it was essential to keep students employed,” said Molly Fluet, ASUCD vice president, co-author of the bill and junior history major. “If we had cut a certain percentage across all our units to cover the cuts we had to make, like the administration is doing, students would have been negatively affected.”
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.