MSA passes this year’s budget

Programming expenses increased while operating expenses were cut down.

MSA passes this year’s budget

Tyler Gieseke

The Minnesota Student Association approved its budget for fiscal year 2012-13 at its second forum meeting of the year Tuesday after debating an increase in the presidential stipend.

The budget was amended twice before being approved. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler also spoke and held a question and answer session with the forum.

The budget includes a 16 percent decrease in total operational expenses like staff compensations and a 14 percent increase in programming expenses like grants to student groups.

Decreasing operational expenses “makes us more efficient,” said Taylor Williams, MSA president. Increasing the programming budget, he said, “allows us to hold better events, solve issues for students [and] bring them together with administrators.”

In 2011-12, MSA entered the budgeting process with a $30,000 carryover from the previous year. This year, the carryover is $4,000.

The first amendment to the budget lowered the $1,500 Twin Cities Advocacy Corps and Civic Engagement Assistant compensation by $500 to match that of several other staff positions.

The second amendment increased the grant to the Volunteer Tax Assistance Program from $4,400 to $5,000.

A highly debated but failed amendment sought to lower the summer 2012 presidential compensation from $1,000 to $500. The compensation was originally included in the budget, Williams said, because he spent around 400 hours over the summer clearing up some pressing tax issues.

Marissa Kramer, MSA director of University policies and student concerns, said it was “hypocritical” of Williams to ask for this compensation when he said during his campaign that he thought the presidential stipend was too high.

Williams said that was incorrect. Instead, during his campaign he had supported removing the chief of staff position in order to lower expenses. He also said that the $1,000 compensation was what he thought was reasonable to cover the time put in over the summer and the days that he missed work to help with the tax issues.

Sophie Wallerstedt, MSA speaker of the forum, said she remained neutral on the issues but was “happy to see debate happening and people bringing up ideas to change the budget.”

During his speech to the forum, Kaler touched on his continuing work in securing funds from the state in order to freeze University tuition for two years.

The University is requesting $42.6 million in order to freeze tuition for in-state and reciprocity students in 2014-15.

At the meeting Phil Kelly and Mick Hedberg were jointly elected as MSA directors of facilities, housing and transit.

MSA also appointed 13 freshman interns this year. The budget included $600 for a retreat and programming fund for the interns, who are unpaid, non-voting members of MSA.

“We have interns so they can grow as leaders,” Williams said. “They are not here to fulfill staff positions.”

Freshman Vanessa Nyarko, one of the interns, said that she is required to work five to seven hours a week as part of the internship.

Some of the projects she would like to work on this year include improving safety on the footbridge near Sanford Hall and putting together a talent show.

“I just like getting the experience of being on MSA,” she said.