STUDENT GOVERNMENT: SG passes bill to better monitor students’ money

The Student Government (SG) Senate passed a bill Tuesday night to keep a closer eye on how Activity and Service (A&S) fees are spent once they reach an organization. There is some speculation, however, that the University’s president will veto it.

Student Body President Gregory Morgan said he plans to sign the bill, but SG and others suspect that President Judy Genshaft will veto it. She has 15 school days to make a decision, according to Florida Statutes.

“I don’t think the president is going to sign it,” said Dean of Students Kevin Banks at the Senate meeting.

Student Body Vice President Thomas King said he also thinks Genshaft will veto it and is looking for a compromise.

“We’re trying to be solution-oriented. We’re trying to figure out how we can solve this,” he said.

King said SG plans to meet with the administration Friday to negotiate a compromise.

The legislation is a rider bill to the A&S budget allocation. A&S fees come from a mandatory $7 fee students pay to the University every year. This means that when the $11 million budget allocation passes, this rider bill will be attached and passed along with it. The budget allocation was already passed, but was recalled to adjust some numbers.

The rider bill outlines that all organizations receiving A&S fees shall spend the fees in accordance with their SG-approved budgets. These budgets, however, are given “flexible spending,” meaning they are allowed to transfer money between different parts of the budget. For example, if an organization were given $100 for food and $100 for promotional items, it would be allowed to transfer the money between those two categories. However, the SG Interim Funding and Transfers Committee (IFTC) must permit the transfer.

Also, if an A&S-funded organization makes any money through the use of the A&S fees, it can’t transfer these revenues to another department or category without the approval of the IFTC. This includes money made by the Phylis P. Marshall Center when it rents out its rooms or the non-student user fee Campus Recreation Charges.

“Student Government doesn’t want to micromanage the revenue – we want to make sure it goes to what it was intended for,” said Attorney General Cordell Chavis. A former senator, Chavis wrote the bill.

Chavis said these regulations are already in the SG statutes, but that the University has not been following them. Morgan said the bill’s purpose is to reaffirm these regulations and make the University recognize these restrictions.

“They want to make sure Dr. Genshaft acknowledges that it’s wrong within Student Government and state statutes to transfer money and not check with Student Government,” Morgan said.

Senator Benjamin Brown said the bill gives SG the opportunity to take control of student funds.

“This verbage really helps give us the tools to do something about it,” Brown said.

The bill also imposes another restriction on A&S fees: All A&S-funded departments of SG and Student Affairs have to submit a quarterly budget report of expenses, transfers and money generated from A&S fees.

If Genshaft vetoes it, the bill would be sent back to the Senate for revisions. After revisions, the Senate has a second chance for her approval.

If Genshaft vetoes the bill again, she can take the A&S fees, wholly or in part, and “reallocate by line item that vetoed portion to bond obligations guaranteed by Activity and Service fees,” according to Florida Statutes. This means she could place it toward debts created by A&S funded entities, such as the Marshall Center. Or she could choose to keep them in the A&S account, but they could not be dispersed until the next fiscal year.

“Unexpended funds and un-disbursed funds remaining at the end of a fiscal year shall be carried over and remain in the student activity and service fund and be available for allocation and expenditure during the next fiscal year,” read the statutes.

The University was unable to comment on whether Genshaft would veto the bill.