College News

Student government passes million-dollar internal budget for next fiscal year

Repeatedly, representatives debated what level of involvement in ASM warranted a salary, and voiced concern that if positions weren’t paid they wouldn't be accessible to students who need a paying job to support themselves.

The Associated Students of Madison passed a $1,384,870.04 budget for 2019 — overriding some changes made to the initial proposal by the finance committee. Repeatedly, representatives debated what level of involvement in ASM warranted a salary, and voiced concern that if positions weren’t paid they wouldn't be accessible to students who need a paying job to support themselves.

“It's a disservice to the student body if we're creating this barrier for students who don't necessarily have the financial means to put in the extra 10 hours a week in a leadership capacity unless they're getting paid,” said Kat Kerwin, current Legislative Affairs Committee Chair, during debate to add a salary for her vice chair — a line item that the Student Services Finance Committee struck from the proposal in their review.

Representatives from SSFC explained the committee's move to strike that salary, along with that of the Sustainability Committee’s vice chair, saying the written description appeared to just be a “very active member.”

“SSFC didn’t see a reason to pay people simply because they are involved in ASM,” said Representative Jonathan Kim, who sits on SSFC. “We didn't see those vice chairs breaking that threshold.”

Kerwin pointed out that other committees have multiple paid positions and argued it would be a disservice to not have “an extra body” putting extra work into the committee going into a budget year.

Members also raised concern that it is typically the vice chairs who become their committee’s chair the following year. If low-income students face barriers to the vice chair positions, representatives argued they would be less likely to have chairs from diverse backgrounds.

While they the $3,360 for the Legislative Affairs Vice Chair got a majority, it did not get the two thirds needed to pass. Additionally, council removed a $1,707.75 salary for Rules Committee Chair added by SSFC — the position is currently held by SSFC Representative Dylan Resch. He serves as ASM’s expert on internal rules and combs through their bylaws to find inconsistencies.

Resch argued the position should be continued after this year as most representatives don’t understand ASM’s constitution and bylaws, which has led to multiple cases in the Student Judiciary this year. Notably, a rule violation overturned last spring’s divestment vote.

The majority of council felt this position is unnecessary, arguing that every representative takes an oath to follow the bylaws and therefore should know them.

“I wouldn’t want to go down a slippery slope where we pay more and more people who’re involved in ASM,” Outreach Director Yogev Ben-Yitshack said, parroting what an SSFC representative said in the earlier debate, when Ben-Yitshack argued for the vice chair salary.

Finally, the council moved to raise support funding for students with disabilities from $8,000 back to $10,000, as it was before SSFC reduced the line-item.

The final internal budget will cost students $3,138.41 less in segregated fees in 2019 than 2018.

UPDATE Nov. 22 at 12:30 p.m.: This article was updated to accurately reflect that the Legislative Affairs Vice Chair was not granted a salary for 2019. 

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