Money can’t buy everything, but Associated Students Legislative Council is preparing to ask the campus for more financial flexibility tonight.
Student government cannot operate on its current budget, Off-Campus Rep Matt McMillan said, and needs a ballot measure to raise its base fee by $5.90. A.S.’ operating budget comes from a base fee of $9.10 charged to undergraduates at the beginning of every quarter. The fee covers staff salaries, office supplies and paperwork. It has not been raised in 21 years.
“We need this to stay solvent,” he said. “There’s no way around the deficit unless we get this increase.”
Currently, A.S. subsidizes its deficit by collectively charging internal groups with lock-in fees between $96,000 and $98,000 a year. The recharge money is used to pay for paperwork and administrative salaries. McMillan said raising the base fee would allow A.S. to eliminate recharges and, someday, lock-in fees.
“We’ll be able to eliminate all the lock-ins. The net cost effect to students will be nil,” he said. “With this, all the internal lock-ins will have to go before Finance Board instead of relying on just a pool of money they can do whatever they want with. … It’s more democratic.”
Another ballot item on the evening’s agenda would allow Leg Council to raise the base fee by up to $1 a year with a three-fourths vote as opposed to an election. McMillan said this would allow A.S. to keep pace with inflation.
Off-Campus Rep Vanessa Blau said council members should not oppose the ballot items.
“That should just be a simple vote,” she said. “It’s going straight to the ballot for students to vote on.”
In other news, the new election code will take effect, despite A.S. President Mahader Tesfai’s veto. The new code eliminates run-off elections and substitutes a new system, in which students would vote for their first and second choice for executive offices. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top two vote-getters will advance, and the second votes of those who did not vote for one of the top two candidates will be added to the original totals. Ballots cast for neither of the top two candidates will not be counted.
Tesfai vetoed the bill and wrote back to the council, “This new Elections Code is sending the message loud and clear to the UCSB student body that their vote does not count.”
However, Tesfai turned in his veto at 5:10 p.m. on the last possible day, Feb. 26. Judicial Council ruled his veto was late and therefore invalid because it was not turned in before the A.S. office closed at 4 p.m.
“There was no real definition of what a business day is in the legal code,” Judicial Council Chair Constatine Pastis said. “The operating hours for the A.S. main office are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., as listed in our standing policies, so we interpreted those as our business hours. On top of that, every single form we have to turn in, whether it’s honoraria or a declaration of candidacy, is always turned in at 4. We should hold a veto to that same time standard.”
Leg Council meets at 6:30 tonight in the Flying A Room of the UCen.