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Monday, February 26, 2024

ASUCD 2023-2024 budget hearings result in major cuts to Entertainment Council, Creative Media budgets2

The hearings that took place on May 20 and 21 also resulted in increased funding for the creation of paid student positions 

 

By LILY FREEMAN — campus@theaggie.org 

 

The ASUCD 2023-2024 budget was debated and finalized over the weekend of May 20-21 during the annual budget hearings process. The $19 million budget was allocated to various sectors and organizations at UC Davis, according to the ASUCD Budget website, and the Senate had the final say in its distribution. 

Senator Jacob Klein explained the initial steps in the budget hearing process. He said that first, each unit and committee funded by ASUCD submits its proposed budget. The ASUCD President then creates an ASUCD-wide proposed budget to be presented based on the budgets proposed by unit and committee directors and their own judgment, and then this budget is deliberated and voted on by the ASUCD Senate. 

Senator Stephen Fujimoto explained the next steps in the hearing process, noting that the twelve senators have the final say in the budget under the ASUCD constitution. 

“Over the weekend of budget hearings, the Senate looks at the proposed budget of each unit, office, commission and committee and is able to make amendments before voting to adopt that budget,” Fujimoto said. “I think that is the biggest role a senator plays.” 

Senator Francisco Ojeda further outlined the hearings’ procedure. 

“During the weekend, senators have a chance to listen and ask questions to representatives from the inner ASUCD bodies,” Ojeda said. “Senators follow a procedure to then vote and close the budget for the specific inner body.” 

According to Fujimoto, eight of the 12 senators are required to approve any change to the budget. Senator Jacob Klein said that during these hearings, nearly every group seeks more funding than the initial proposed budget allots them. 

“Since the budget is perfectly balanced, for the Senate to allocate even one dollar more, we have to take one dollar from somewhere else,” Klein said. “That’s why it’s so important that we listen to each unit and committee in budget hearings so that we can provide money for the things we care about most.” 

Ojeda went on to explain the factors that went into his votes on the budget. 

“When it comes to considering changes to the budget, it is great to be shown how the unit is currently using its money,” Ojeda said. “How do students benefit from this? We also consider how much extra money they are looking for, and […] we need to have a plan of how much is feasible to relocate and where the money would come from.”  

Fujimoto also talked about the factors that he placed more weight on during these hearings.

“Personally, I weighed heavily the amount of students I believed would benefit from one allocation versus another,” Fujimoto said. “This meant I prioritized basic needs as well as funding for disability accessibility upgrades. Any student can benefit from increased ASUCD support for basic needs.” 

Klein detailed the major changes made to the budget — namely, a $180,000 cut to the budget for the Entertainment Council.

“Many senators were against this large of a cut, but since there was no room in the balanced budget, we voted to cut funds from Creative Media,” Klein said. “Additionally, more than $100,000 was allocated to Aggie Aid in the President’s proposed budget. This is a grant that gives emergency funding to students who have already exhausted all other aid and are at risk of things like eviction.” 

Fujimoto said that the cuts to Creative Media were used to fund more paid hours for ASUCD positions and the marketing budgets of other units. He went on to outline two new units that were incorporated into the 2023-2024 budget. 

“The ASUCD Senate recently established two new units, both of which I have had an opportunity to help create: the Innovation and Research Lab and the Pride Festival,” Fujimoto said. “The former received a final allocation of around $53,000 and the latter received an allocation of around $30,000. The Senate voted to increase both of these units’ budgets from the President’s proposed allocations.”

Senator Ojeda said that the Senate also voted for the budget to allow various previously volunteer or stipend-funded positions to become hourly-paid positions during the next academic year.

“ASUCD [is moving] away from stipend positions,” Ojeda said. “I’m happy to share that a large number of ASUCD student workers are now paid hourly. This is one step closer to achieving living wages for all ASUCD workers.” 

Klein concluded by highlighting how students are able to have a voice in the allocation of the budget each year. 

“Each budget meeting is open to the public, so students can advocate for changes in proposed budgets,” Klein said. “Additionally, students should talk to senators individually about prioritizing certain budgets.” 

The finalized budget for the 2023-2024 school year can be found on the ASUCD budget website. 

 

Written by: Lily Freeman — campus@theaggie.org