Freshman representatives were sworn in to the student government during Wednesday’s meeting and had the opportunity to participate in discussion about the government’s internal budget and the new funding stream.
The first draft of the internal budget, outlined by Coordinating Council, was presented to members of the Associated Students of Madison Student Council.
Earlier this fall, the budget drafting process was moved to the Coordinating Council after Student Council members claimed Finance Committee had been creating a static budget draft from year to year.
Vice Chair Adam Johnson said he was more satisfied with the initial budget that was drafted through Coordinating Council than he had been with drafts developed by the Finance Committee in the past.
“We don’t have to waste as much time arguing over the budget,” Johnson said. “It makes us more efficient.”
The budget total came to $1,192,754.05, up 6.67 percent from last year’s budget.
However, questions from council members were still raised about specific areas of the budget.
Many members were concerned with the addition of a full-time lobbyist to an empty position in ASM’s academic staff in the budget.
Chair Brandon Williams said a full-time lobbyist would give ASM a permanent relationship with the Capitol, allowing ASM to have a representative in the state Legislature.
Shared Governance Committee Chair Kyle VandenLangenburg was concerned about the creation of a position in ASM without a definite job title.
VandenLangenburg said there were no clear answers about why that position was needed and what the position will accomplish within ASM.
Rules Committee Chair Cale Plamann also raised concern, pointing out the amount the council had designated as the position’s salary, $60,000, was far too low to attract a skillful lobbyist.
Johnson said Coordinating Council put the label lobbyist on the position because they did not know what else to call it and the position should be renamed because it did not accurately describe the job.
“Technically, the empty position can be filled by any number of proposals the student council develops,” Johnson said.
He added the lobbyist position was Coordinating Council’s idea of how to fill the position.
More debate and discussion on ASM’s internal budget will occur at next week’s meeting.
The council also listened to the second of two presentations made by Student Services Finance Committee Chair Matt Manes about the SSFC strategic plan.
In the presentation, Manes focused on the Campus Services Fund and the bylaws pertaining to it.
Manes also detailed the proposal process of the CSF and explained the annual review process of approved organization proposals.
VandenLangenburg said the CSF has the potential to receive a large load of proposals and asked Manes how the CSF will be able to handle the large sum without letting it spiral out of control.
Manes said he believed there would be a large number initially, but the student government has complete control of the proposals and has the authority to accept and reject proposals according to certain criterion established by the CSF.
Johnson said debate may or may not occur at next week’s meeting, depending on whether the council decides to postpone further discussion.