Internal SGA review suggests cuts to salaries, organization spending
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 01:09
A Student Government Association official conducted a preliminary internal review to address budget efficiency, including wages and internal expenditures, within the organization.
SGA Vice President Kolby Flowers, chair of the Internal Affairs committee, outlined what he perceives to be budget inefficiencies.
According to Flowers’ findings, $44,600 is spent on officer and student assistant wages, which is 62 percent of SGA’s budget.
Only 20 percent of the budget is delegated for student-oriented expenditures such Bearkat All-Paws-In or the Student Advisory Board. There is also $8,100 set aside for Senate discretionary spending, as well as $5,000 on internal operations.
Records obtained by The Houstonian show SGA internal expenditures increased 278 percent from 2005-2011, or more than $13,000 in 2005-2006 to more than $49,600 in 2011-2012.
Even though SGA’s total budget increased by 56.5 percent ($46,000 to $72,000) in the six-year span, student-oriented spending decreased by 38 percent and senate discretionary funds went down by 19 percent.
Flowers said on Monday that he’d like to see a more student-oriented budget for SGA, rather than spending so much money on themselves.
“It’s part of my job to make sure that SGA is running as efficient as it can,” Flowers said. “I just felt like this was something that needed to be done. Seventy percent of our budget goes to ourselves. We’re supposed to be working for the students and here we are giving $44,000 to ourselves.”
The preliminary report for the internal review was emailed to SGA officials on Monday afternoon and will be discussed at today’s meeting.
Bearkat All-Paws-In coordinator Cristan Shamburger said she isn’t sure how the presentation will go, but that she is supportive of Flowers’ position on addressing the budget.
“Our goal is to represent students and we’re not doing that,” Shamburger said. “So, I like [Flower’s] idea of reversing the way we spend, where we put the majority funds into student-oriented activities versus internally.”
This could mean SGA officers take a pay cut if funds are refocused. The active budget pays President Shane Rankin $950 a month, Flowers $750, Treasurer Jimmy Williams $650, Secretary Maddye Clarke $450, Chief of Staff Victoria Towery $250, and executive student assistants earn $7.25 an hour.
Flowers said there could be pay cuts across the board, or even the elimination of some assistants.
The Senate nomination process is also addressed in the internal review. Becoming a senator isn’t so challenging Flowers said, considering in the last three years, only two students have not been allowed in.
To become a senator, a student has to be placed on the ballot during a Spring election year to win a seat from their respective college. Senators are allowed to nominate students to join the Senate if there are any vacancies. Only two Senate meetings and two committee meetings are required before a prospective candidate can meet with the college that has the vacancy, according to the SGA Constitution.
Flowers suggests that a more in-depth process application be created, which could include mandatory caucus meetings and an interview with the SGA president. He also wants to establish a selection committee, which would have six senators and the vice president as its members.
The committee wouldn’t actually vote, rather give recommendations.
“What I’m proposing is that we have students declare their intent to join,” Flowers said. “I’m also looking at creating a more in-depth application, maybe asking students some questions. There’s no real interview process that goes on.”
The next SGA meeting is today at 6:30 p.m. in LSC 320. Internal affairs will be at 5:30 p.m.