MSA slates discuss tackling the budget
Next semester, the vice president will be tasked with reviewing a $1.6 million budget that funds several programs and departments, including all MSA/GPC auxiliaries and DSA.
Nov. 11, 2014
The Missouri Students Association presidential and vice presidential candidates opened up on how they would like to tackle the budget next semester. Each slate addressed how it would approach potential budget cuts, and how it would like to increase transparency through the entire budgeting process.
The Myles Artis/Mary Cate O’Brien slate said it would like to make the budget process smoother through transparency and continuous open communication with MSA/GPC auxiliaries and organizations that are allocated money through MSA.
They will meet individually with each auxiliary to see exactly what their needs are and where money is used, and said they hope to use surveys and go to meetings to stay update on the different groups.
Before they submit the budget to MSA Senate, they said they want to submit proposals back to the organizations to make sure they’re up-to-date. A rough draft would be approved by the organizations first to make sure everyone is informed.
“We want this to be a collaborative effort and make sure everyone has their hand in the budget,” Artis said. “If that’s the case, we’ll make sure everyone’s voices are heard and the process will go smoothly.”
In the case of a budget cut, Artis/O’Brien said they hope to meet with each group to see where the money should be prioritized.
“We’re never going to say we’re cutting this or that, point-blank,” O’Brien said. “There will always be conversation, and we’ll do a lot of negotiating to make sure everyone is happy at the end of the day.”
Throughout the year, Artis/O’Brien will continue to meet with the auxiliaries on budgetary issues to make sure it is efficient and feasible. They said they will continually evaluate how each auxiliary is using its money, what is working or not working and how they’re doing with their budget.
Artis/O’Brien will also keep an updated version on the website and make sure students know what they’re paying for.
“(We want) everyone on the same page and understanding about how the budget is,” O’Brien said. “We want to be as transparent with the different organizations as possible.”
MSA presidential slate Payton Head/Brenda Smith-Lezama has set out plans to better deal with the budget if elected.
Instead of cutting from different parts of the budget, they said they want to look into other avenues for funding. Head said this topic comes up every year during election season when talking with Student Life.
“(Cutting from the auxiliaries’ budget) is not necessarily something we want to look at just exclusively,” Head said. “One thing we want to do is explore the possibility of getting outside funding and encourage the auxiliaries to be self-sustainable.”
Another big part of the slate’s stance on the budget is getting more involved with-the-auxiliaries and having more conversations.
“I think, in the past, (the vice president) has had maybe one or two meetings a semester with auxiliaries and kind of left it at that,” Smith-Lezama said. “I think it’s really important if we’re selected (for presidency) to make sure that we’re utilizing these auxiliaries, visiting their meetings, and making sure that not only do we have open lines of communication, but that were using them.”
The last thing the slate really emphasized was working with senate on the budget and communicating more with both the MSA Budget committee and the Student Fee Review Committee.
“It’s been a problem in the past, and that’s one of the reasons why MSA passed legislation that specifically says the vice president needs to work with the budget chair of the Budget Committee when drafting the budget,” Head said.
Overall, the slate has a lot it wants to do with the budget, but will not make any drastic changes, Smith-Lezama said.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say anything drastic (needs to change),” she said. “However, I think that the process that goes into making the budget is probably what I would want to change the most.”
Sophomores Jordan McFarland and T.J. Hinch said they intend to make the process of creating a budget more transparent for organizations.
“We should go to every organization and ask what they need, then work with that,” McFarland said. “You can cut it down, then go back to that organization, ask, say, ‘Am I going to kill you with these numbers?’ Boom. They’re involved in the budget.”
Hinch, who will be handling the budget if elected, pointed to efficiency as the most important part of a discussion about the budget.
“We feel that MSA is lethargic, so we’re going to cut down on unnecessary spending and increase communication,” Hinch said. “I’m personally wanting to get everyone at the table.”
Hinch said that under the assumption that MSA’s budget would be cut next year, he and McFarland would ask the Associated Students at the University of Missouri to lobby at the state level to increase funding for the university before making reductions to organizations’ budgets.
“We don’t want to make any enemies,” Hinch said. “We’re going to try to keep cuts as minimal as possible. MUTV and KCOU 88.1 FM are vital educational instruments. They’re not being cut. STRIPES is our primary safety auxiliary, so they’re not getting cut.”
Hinch said his slate would only increase spending for student safety initiatives like STRIPES.
“Self-sustaining auxiliaries are very important,” Hinch said. “If they can sustain themselves, we can pay more attention to the ones that can’t. It’s kind of like Legos. You can’t make a castle without each individual block. If we stabilize each individual block, we can build that castle.”
At the MSA presidential debate hosted by the Residence Halls Association and the Board of Elections Commissioners on Oct. 27, Hinch promised to donate his entire $5,000 salary to MSA should he be elected to help compensate for budget cuts.
“That still stands,” Hinch said. “We are free falling right now. I want to help the situation. I want to help stabilize the current situation and stop us from free falling.”