The University of Wisconsin’s student government overwhelmingly approved its slightly decreased budget and considered a potential overthrow of its current constitution at its meeting Wednesday.
Members of the Associated Students of Madison Student Council voted 12-2 to approve the General Student Services Fund budget over the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The newly approved GSSF budget total will be nearly $1.4 million, down more than $5,000 from this year’s budget.
Primary budget cuts came from salaries of various ASM positions and spending on supplies, according to Student Services Finance Committee Chair Ellie Bruecker. She added these GSSF spending reductions were “exciting,” and have occurred the past couple years.
“I think SSFC did a fantastic job this year being very transparent. Everybody has faith in Chair Bruecker and SSFC in general to do its job correctly, and that’s why you saw basically unanimous approval over it,” ASM Chair Andrew Bulovsky said.
This budget is still subject to slight change, however, Bruecker noted, as two GSSF student groups have filed appeals regarding their budgets for next year.
Student Council also unanimously approved the SSFC’s approximately $170,000 budget for next year, which also is lower than the committee’s current budget. Bruecker said SSFC was able to reduce its budget for FY 2013-2014 by approximately $1,000 despite increased wages for SSFC members associated with last year’s tuition increase.
“We’re, basically just trying to be more responsible with students’ money [on these budget decisions],” Bruecker added.
Student Council also proposed an overthrow of its current constitution to adopt a slightly modified version drafted by Nominations Board Chair Sean McNally. The goal is to consolidate the process of student government funding while emphasizing focus on campus outreach, according to McNally.
Major changes to the new constitution include a Legislative Branch with a Student Senate, President’s Council, nearly unchanged Judicial Branch and inclusion of a President and Vice President in the Executive Branch, according to an ASM statement.
“It’s streamlining to allow students to focus on serving other students, while other representatives to focus on making sure the budgets are checked and equitable to all groups,” McNally said.
While the new 15-page constitution is largely the same as the one in place now, McNally said it would be easier to digest than a series of complicated bylaw changes that could be 100 pages long.
ASM’s development of a new constitution has been going on for years, McNally added. He said the Constitution Committee proposed a new constitution in the fall, but it was rejected because he said it failed to make a truly balanced structure sustainable for the next 25 to 50 years.
McNally believes his modifications to the document now better achieve those objectives.
“I think this … allows the student senate and president to really focus on outreach, on shared governance and on campaigns and initiatives to make this a campus a better place for students,” he said.
The council passed various amendments to the newly proposed constitution, most notably the change in term length of student senators from two to one-year terms and the requirement for elected ASM presidents to serve at least a semester on student government.
The council also narrowly voted 10-9-3 against a bylaw change that would have removed the vote to reform United Council policies every two years.