MSA to increase budget transparency

The annual budget will become more accessible to the public.

Cody Nelson

The Minnesota Student Association on Tuesday passed a bylaw to increase budget transparency after requesting increased student services fees.

The bylaw, which passed unanimously and without debate, states MSA will put its annual budget online for public viewing and have hard copies available in the office within a week of its approval.

MSA is one of the largest recipients of student service fees. It received more than $159,000 from the Student Services Fees Committee in 2012-13.

Officials this year are requesting an increase of about $14,400 over MSA’s 2012-13 fees request, bringing its total request to about $186,000.

Prahith Chakka, an author of the bylaw, said MSA doesn’t currently publish its budget in a transparent way.

“It’s important to know where MSA’s money actually goes,” he said.

Responsibility for meeting these requirements is placed on the MSA president because it’s a permanent position.

Ryan Olson, another author of the bylaw, said the measure will make MSA “efficient and effective.”

“I think it opens [MSA’s budget] up for criticism,” he said. “It keeps us accountable.”

About $3 of each student’s fees goes to MSA each semester, so Olson said he believes it’s important for the student body to know what its government is doing with its money.

According to MSA’s fees request, “[MSA] leadership believes a greater impact can be made with more money.”

With increased funds, MSA hopes to increase programming and cut operating expenses, according to its request.

Advertising is the main area in which MSA hopes to increase spending, according to the request, with travel and entertainment expenses slated to receive the most cuts.

At Tuesday’s forum, MSA also introduced a bylaw that would give its student services fees application process more accountability.

Kyle Kroll, an author of the bylaw, said it’s important that more than one or two people prepare MSA’s fees request.

“It’s just good policy for us to have this policy in place for years to come,” he said. “It’s important to have all these people involved in the creation of the [fees] request.”