The Student Services Finance committee of the Associated Students of Madison continued budget hearings for the 2013-2014 fiscal year at a meeting Monday, hearing from two student organizations.
The committee heard budget proposals from Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics and Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group.
This will be the first year AHA will receive funding from the General Student Services Fund because it is the organization’s first year providing direct services, according to AHA President Chris Calvey.
Calvey addressed modifications to the proposed salary budget, saying AHA was looking to decrease the funds originally allocated to this area. He said this decrease was meant to encourage SSFC not to cut any of its positions.
“It is our first year providing direct services, and we don’t want to shoot too high,” Calvey said. “It would reflect badly on us if we return too much money.”
In contrast to the decrease in the salary line item, Calvey advocated for an increase in the proposed budget for supplies and furniture.
He credited this increase to the Canon camcorder the organization is looking to purchase.
“We want to buy a video camcorder so we can record all our events and put them on our YouTube channel,” he said. “[The channel] already has 60,000 views, so there is clearly a demand.”
When asked by SSFC Rep. David Vines why such an expensive camcorder was necessary for the organization, Calvey said it would help the organization carry out AHA’s direct services. He said many people cannot make it to the organization’s events and so they want to see the organization’s videos.
SSFC Rep. Sarah Neibart expressed concerns that little of AHA’s budget was going to direct services.
“The nature of our direct services is they don’t cost a lot to provide them,” Calvey said. “Staff time is the only money in our budget that is going directly to direct services.”
During the meeting, WISPIRG Chair Emily Ten Eyck presented staff salaries and membership fees as budget priorities for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
While WISPIRG was asking for almost exactly the same amount of funds for their salaries as the previous year, Ten Eyck explained their salary positions are different. She said WISPIRG hires professional issue experts and lobbyists to help it fulfill its campaigns.
“Spending money on staff is most effective way to make a difference,” she said.
SSFC Secretary Jonathan Harris expressed concern these funds were not coming back to students in the form of direct services.
Ten Eyck said if students want to be involved in WISPIRG campaigns, they can and they will get to work directly with the professional staff.
Additionally, membership fees for the national U.S. Public Interest Research Group organization is a necessary part of WISPIRG’s budget, Ten Eyck said, because the fees it buys into are essential to the services the organization provides.
SSFC Chair Ellie Bruecker questioned the lack of advertising funds in WISPIRG’s proposed budget and how students would be aware of the direct services the organization provides.
According to Ten Eyck, all the advertising for WISPIRG comes from the organizations for which it pays membership dues.
The final budget decisions for AHA and WISPIRG will be made at the next SSFC meeting Nov. 8.