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Sunday, March 3, 2024

ASUCD Senate bill for equitable parking costs needs to find alternative funding

The bill cannot be funded by the Senate reserves budget as it was originally passed due to issues regarding the use of student fees

 

By SYDNEY AMESTOY — campus@theaggie.org

 

Student Bill (SB) #8, which would provide ASUCD funding to financially disadvantaged students for on-campus parking, needs to find an alternative source of funding.  In its originally passed form, the bill would have seen $12,500 allocated from the ASUCD Senate Reserves Budget.

Passed during the Nov. 2 ASUCD Senate meeting, Senator Gaius Ilupeju, the bill’s author, said that the bill would also create an Equitable Parking Oversight Committee.

“The goal of the initiative is to subsidize parking for financially disadvantaged students, commuter students and student workers,” Ilupeju said. “That’s the short term goal, [and] the long term goal is to, you know, create affordable parking on campus for everyone.”

However, according to Ilupeju, the bill in its current state needs to be reworked due to its reliance on funding from the Senate reserves budget.

“After we passed it, [and] we should have probably done this before, we reached out to our campus legal council which advises all university departments on spending and sending in contracts or agreements to make sure that they don’t run into legal issues,” Ilupeju said. “This program is not one of the things that was explicitly listed on the fee referendum that students vote on, which makes up part of the Senate reserves budget.”

During deliberation for an emergency spending bill at the ASUCD Senate meeting held on Nov. 2, Controller Allyson Francisco mentioned that the Senate reserves budget was a quarter of the way spent already. That statement is no longer accurate, according to Francisco, as it included the $12,500 for SB #8.

According to Francisco, the ASUCD budget, and more specifically the Senate reserves budget, is made up of a variety of sources, from state funding to income made from units such as the ASUCD Bike Barn. On the other hand, the Senate reserve budget – which is around $91,000 and used for bills and emergency spending – is funded through set student fees which have been voted on in ASUCD elections.

Currently, according to Francisco, students pay $85 per quarter, with that number increasing by $8 every year until the 2029-2030 school year. This was voted on through the Basic Needs Fee referendum in the winter 2020 ASUCD election.

“We have one of the lowest base fees of any UC campus,” Francisco said. “UC Santa Barbara is in the hundreds, and the same with UCLA. This is all public information […] their students are paying hundreds of dollars per quarter for their student government.”

Since the money for subsidized parking was not part of the Basic Needs Fee referendum, according to Ilupeju, this meant that it was recommended that a new source of funding was needed.

“So that $12,500 is in limbo,” Ilupeju said. “We’re just waiting for further meetings for communication. But once everything is sorted out another option that we have for the subsidization programs is to just give it to students directly as a grant through financial aid. The problem with that is a lot of these students or a lot of students who qualify already receive a lot of financial aid to kind of regain over the cost of living […] So [if] we give them an additional grant, that might mess up their financial aid.”

According to Ilupeju, there have been other considerations for sources of funding, including writing a new bill that would allow this money to come from Senate reserves.

Currently, according to Francisco, the true status of the Senate reserves budget is not a quarter of the way spent, but spending so far has accounted for 15 percent of the budget, which is on track with other years.

 

Written by: Sydney Amestoy — campus@theaggie.org

 

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