SG must learn from its budget shortcomings

With the budget issues swirling statewide, it is no surprise that Student Government’s budget has remained in the headlines.

Two years ago, the SG budget was $400,000, but statewide budget cuts have taken a toll on the group’s funding, which has been dramatically cut the past two years. SG has been forced to find different ways be more fiscally responsible. This has resulted in trying to find alternative methods for generating revenue, and also better defining spending and looking at where all the money is going.

Last year’s SG did not do so well with the task. Funds allocated for student organizations ran out before the end of the year.

SG has responded with actions, from Senate accountability to an executive-driven Campus 365 Plan that addresses UK issues, in order to do things differently.

This goal will be difficult to achieve, but the approach looks at the problem holistically to ensure that every dollar is used as effectively as possible. SG has tried to do away with wasteful spending — an example that could probably be followed in many other Kentucky institutions as it tries to facilitate change from the top down.

To start, the work of the Senate president has been given a $1,000 pay raise. That may not seem like change, but the senators that head up committees have cut their pay altogether to make the Senate president’s raise possible.

The Senate as a whole also passed an act that would make them more responsible for attending meetings and events sponsored by SG. So not only will senators have to take their roles more seriously, but they will also have to be involved in the events they sponsor beyond just giving some money to the cause.

What is in place is a senate that values the work of the executive and takes their jobs seriously, attempting to show that SG understands what they need to do to make a successful campus.

In order to increase revenue, SG distributed 10,000 planners with the UK academic calendar and some athletic calendars. The project generated $9,500 in revenue from advertising sales in collaboration with University Directories.

Learning from last year’s budget blunder, SG has built in a failsafe of sorts in the form of a budget clause. A minimum of $40,000 in funds will be available solely for the spring semester so that all programs will be able to receive equal funding throughout the year.

Students are no longer able to request funds multiple times without just cause, in order to decrease collegiate level “pork-barrel spending.” And to ensure that the message of fiscal responsibility has gotten out, SG held a banquet to make students aware of the changes and what is available and accessible to organizations.

At the moment, there is no way of knowing how these moves will turn out, but SG has tried to tackle the budget crisis better than most groups struggling with the same issues.

But the group can’t stop their critical thinking and reorganization of their budget. Some of the allotment of funds needs more of a critical approach. Throwing iPods at diversity and giving money to big causes has to have the same thought put into it as the budget change.

SG must work to lay the groundwork to ensure that funds allocated to student groups do not run dry, but also continue to find ways to stretch a dollar while maintaining focus on what is important to UK students in these tough economic times.