MSA passes yearly budget, chooses leaders

Brett Knapp

Minnesota Student Association members voted on a budget and decided on committee heads for the upcoming school year.
Forum members passed their 1996-97 budget and elected about a dozen students to various leadership positions at Tuesday’s meeting. The group debated but did not pass a budget proposal at a Forum on May 21.
The budget distributes $193,965 for expected expenses and positions with stipends, such as MSA president and vice president. The group also has excess money from last year, which will be added to the budget next fall.
MSA will receive $194,000 in student services fees next year.
Last week’s budget proposal also allotted $193,965 to various expenditures, but the initial figures did not pass full Forum muster after some members raised concerns about the money’s distribution.
In Tuesday’s proposal, certain positions with stipends were cut or altered, and the excess dollars were placed in the MSA Diversity Events Fund.
“A lot of people are concerned with stipended positions as opposed to things such as the DEF grants where the money is equally distributed,” said MSA President Helen Phin.
MSA’s diversity grant committee distributes money to non-fee-receiving student organizations that wish to sponsor an event.
The total amount apportioned for stipends this week is $20,200, down from $20,950 in the budget proposed last week.
To help reduce the number, Academic Affairs Committee Chairman Corey Donovan voluntarily cut his yearly $900 stipend in half. Phin’s stipend was cut by $800, to $5,200. But Vice President Eric Hanson’s stipend increased from $4,000 to $4,200.
These changes were still unacceptable to some students, however. Senator Eric Watkins said he wondered why Hanson’s stipend increased after the Forum rejected last week’s proposal on the basis of excessive stipends.
“That money comes from students’ pockets,” representative Ben Powers said.
Hanson said the increase was an attempt to make his and Phin’s stipends more equitable because they plan to do equal amounts of work. “This very much reflects how much we’ll (each) do,” Hanson said.
Senator Jesse Berglund said Phin and Hanson deserved their stipends and might perform better if they receive higher pay. “They should be financially sound for the year so they can devote more of their time to students,” Berglund said.
The budget also includes $300 stipends to each of the three Student Senate Consultative Committee members.
Before passing the budget, group members elected students who will lead various student government committees.
Among the positions filled were the chairs of MSA’s student life, academic affairs and legislative affairs committees.