Joshua Ceballos/Investigative Editor
Last week was the start of University budget season, and the Student Government Council at the Modesto Maidique Campus is looking to increase its own budgets by almost $200,000.
Speaker of the Senate David Nivia and Speaker Pro Tempore Angel Algarin of SGC-MMC have submitted requests to increase the budget for the finance committee and the legislative branch to $100,000 each.
This constitutes an increase of over 500 percent for both items.
Every spring, a committee from the Student Government Association meets to decide how to distribute students’ Activity and Service fee money to various organizations and initiatives on all campuses.
A&S fees also go towards buildings like the Graham Center, the Wellness and Recreation Center and the Wolfe University Center.
At MMC and the Biscayne Bay Campus, the President, Vice President, Speaker of the Senate, Speaker Pro Tempore and the Comptroller sit on the budget committee and listen to A&S funded groups advocate for budget and deliberate on how much they should get.
As student organizations like the Black Student Union, Student Media and the Center for Leadership and Service present to SGA in the coming weeks advocating for funding, members of the SGC-MMC are asking for some additional funding increases of their own.
In this year’s budget, the finance committee of SGC-MMC has $16,000 meant to give to students and student groups who request money from SGA for academic trips or projects.
If a club or organization needs money to pay for a field trip to a competition or to sponsor their members in a national conference, they can make a proposal to SGA asking for help, and that money would come from the finance committee.
“By allocating $100,000 to our finance committee, it can really free up some money for these organizations for them to be able to come and request money for a fantastic opportunity like a leadership conference,” said Algarin.
Algarin told PantherNOW that in fall of 2019 alone, the finance committee received requests for funds students that amounted to almost $40,000 if they had funded each request.
This is well over what the committee has to work with, which is why they’re requesting a bigger budget.
“We wanted to go in there with a higher ask knowing that we have a lot of these organizations that are coming to us now and they are requesting money for substantial things,” said Algarin.
The other item looking for a boost is the legislative branch budget. Currently sitting at $13,000, the proposed increase would mean adding $87,000. This is more of an increase than any other student organization has had in the last five years, according to records of budgets from previous years.
The legislative branch budget is for senators to fund initiatives and outreach events each semester for their constituents, according to Nivia. Right now, each senator is allocated $150 a semester to put on these events or sponsor bills.
“We have received a lot of feedback from senators saying they would like to make bigger initiatives but they’re limited by a small amount of money,” Nivia said.
Some initiatives that the senate wants to fund include a bill to include free feminine products in women’s restrooms throughout campus, and a plan to add more light posts to dark areas around MMC.
Nivia said that while the senate has many ideas for projects to help the student body, they don’t have the means to fund them on their own without partnerships. For this reason, he wants to up the budget to $100,000.
Such a large proposed increase begs the question: where will the money come from?
SGA gets about $12 million in A&S fees each year to allocate to the wellness and recreation centers, student organizations, University offices like Career and Talent Development, and to the two government councils at MMC and BBC.
Because this money comes from student fees and enrollment hasn’t increased since last year, someone’s budget must go down for another item to go up so high.
Nivia, who sits on the budget deliberation committee, said it will depend on what the SGA funded groups ask for to see where money will move around.
He also said that the committee will be looking at budget requests closely to see if organizations really need as much as they’re asking for.
“It depends on students’ needs after budget season. We first have to see how much adds up, and how much an organization really needs,” said Nivia. “Are the requests really necessary?”
Algarin, another senator sitting on the budget committee, said he’s not sure about increasing the legislative branch budget so greatly.
“I don’t know… I’m not 100% sure I agree with $100,000 completely. I do support an increase,” he said.