A student government committee voted 5-2 to allocate more than $10 million of student segregated fees to the Wisconsin Union budget for the next fiscal year on Thursday.
The 2013-2014 budget is about a $650,000 increase from last year, with a $7.80 increase in segregated fees per student per semester.
The increase in segregated revenue for the Wisconsin Union’s budget mainly goes to maintenance of the buildings, according to SSFC Chair Ellie Bruecker.
“The committee passed the budget because there’s an effort on the union’s side to increase transparency… the improvement of the amount of information we got was a big factor for passing their budget this year,” Bruecker said.
Rep. Richard Rolland questioned whether it is proper to vote on better communication, rather than to vote based on merit of the budget.
He said the amount of information he received is still not enough to justify students paying more than $2,000 for the Union.
While expressing appreciation that the Union has improved in transparency since last year, Rep. David Vines voted down the budget.
“Personally, I think it is irresponsible and wrong for students to support an entity that has 30.1 million dollars of revenue a year,” Vines said. “I do not think just because students walk through the buildings a lot that we need to pitch more money in.”
The concerns about lacking control over the budget comes from SSFC being unable change the Union, and only being allowed to vote yes or no to the proposed budget.
Despite the concerns, the majority of the committee acknowledged the improvement in working in relation to the Union, which adapted several recommendations from SSFC in this year’s proposal, Bruecker said.
Rep. Ian Malmstadt, who supports the budget, said he felt conflicted about the decision all day, but ultimately voted in favor due to the beneficial services of the Union.
“They have room always available for student groups and that’s huge for students, not to mention studies …and great services provided by the Union that benefit campus to the whole extent,” Malmstadt said. “$10 million segregated fees is worth it.”
Other committee members also expressed having conflicting views on the budget, but considered the improvement of transparency and communication a major step forward.
Last year, SSFC voted against the Union’s proposed $9 million budget because of a lack of information and accountability associated with the budget.
“The fact that they are listening to us, taking input from previous years is important…I’m not happy with the dollar amount, but still there’s something to be said about the work done so far,” Vice Chair Joe Vanden Avond said.
Bruecker said she is not surprised the committee passed the budget this year, observing efforts on the Union’s side to improve transparency.
She said the working relationship between SSFC leadership and Union leadership has been markedly better compared to the past.
“I expected the budget to pass because of that,” she said.