And you thought our federal government was broke.

Yes, UCSB’s very own Associated Students is having financial woes of its own — Apocalyptic financial woes. Just to give you an idea of how bad things are, last year, A.S. Finance Board was able to dole out $75,000 in cash. This year, they had a whopping $2,200.

Imagine Lance Armstrong. Now, take away his bike, his helmet, his cool postal service uniform and his wristband and you have little more than a naked man with a cool name. That’s the condition A.S. is in right now, except they don’t have the cool name.

Money is what makes the gears in governments turn, and, this year, we’re all out of grease. This means no gluttonous A.S. barbeque. This means the dreams of an A.S. pub are pretty much shot. This means that a lot of student organizations that would usually get cash will be leaving Finance Board meetings with little more than “I’m sorry.” And here I thought that electing a government meant never having to say, “I’m sorry.” I guess not every government can be like the Bush administration.

Unlike our federal government, A.S. can’t spend money they don’t have. When governments are broke, there is little they can do besides fret and raise taxes, and our very own Associated Students is no exception. These taxes are coming in the form of a new base fee, to be voted on by us, the student electorate, in a special election. Benjamin Franklin said that the two things that are certain in life are death and taxes, and this is just another reminder that we’re not dead yet.

However, I’m not necessarily opposed to the fee initiative. While nobody likes to pay taxes, I gladly turn in my W-2 forms and give up that extra 7.75 percent on commercial purchases knowing that things like roads, public schools and fire departments require money – and somebody has to foot the bill. Unlike some tax-haters in this country who seem to believe that post offices and police stations sprout from the ground without the fertilization of federal cash, I know that sometimes tax money is needed for the greater good.

So, in regards to the base fee, I consider myself an undecided voter who has but a few questions for my A.S. representatives. Questions that, depending on how they’re answered, may swing me and Jeanne Q. Gaucho to vote in favor of this fee.

First, where did the money go? We’ve all, at one time or another, looked at our ATM receipts in an induced state of horror – so we can sympathize with the plight of A.S. But this is more than just beer, rent, Emerald Video fees and Top Ramen. This is a good $70,000 worth in cash difference we’re talking about.

Second, and this is related to the first, how did A.S. get money to spend for last year and the year before in the first place? After the 2002 fiscal year, A.S. was more broke than Mike Tyson. The original attempt to push the base fee failed, so how did A.S. get the $75,000 that it handed out?

Third, and most important, what’s in it for us? By “us” I mean every student who will be voting for this measure. Students can live without an A.S. barbeque and the majority of students, including me, don’t belong to any of the groups that are the recipient of A.S. cash. If A.S. wants to earn my vote, and win this measure, they will have to level with us and tell us what services will be cut without a funded A.S. government and what we stand to get out of an A.S. government with cash.

I trust that the current proprietors of A.S. are good people who want to make the best of their term with more than a deflated wallet. I encourage them to write to the Daily Nexus as a means of explaining why they need our money and what they’re going to do with it.

Neil Visalvanich is a senior history and political science major