Senators dig into next semester’s unknown budget

By Amanda Alfanos, Editor-in-Chief

Student senators violated their own constitution Tuesday when they spent more money than they have.

Senate Bill 028 allotted $2,150 to Oklahoma Wizards League (OWL) for the organization’s annual Hogwarts Hoot-enanny: A Wizard Rock Charity Ball. The event will be hosted in February. Student Senate only had about $1,000 left in rolling appropriations for the semester when the bill was funded.

“Only OCU-SGA monies which have been allocated through the OCU-SGA budget, organizational allotments, or Senate legislation and approved by the Senate may be spent unless provided for elsewhere in the constitution or by-laws,” according to Section II of Article VII of the SGA constitution.

Budgets for next semester have not yet been determined, said Justin DaMetz, president of Student Senate. The budget will be voted on by senators during the first meeting of next semester, he said.

Senators questioned the validity of funding the bill with next semester’s prospective monies during Tuesday’s meeting.

Sen. Sarah Cook (Greek/president pro-tempore) broke Robert Rules of Order and said funding of the bill was “shady.”

DaMetz said he didn’t think it was “shady,” because it had been done in the past.

Both DaMetz and Sen. Andrew Long (senior-at-large) and author of the bill, did not know what similar procedures previously had been performed.

“I talked to someone that was in Senate last year and they said ‘Oh no, you can do that,’” Long said.  ”I had no idea what it was.
“It’s been done more than once maybe.”

In 2008, Jeff Riles, SGA president, spent funds that had not been allotted or approved by the Senate. He was privately reprimanded by Student Senate for improperly using funds, one of SGA’s grounds for impeachment, according to Section 5 in Article VI the SGA constituition. Student Life officials loaned Riles the money and senators amended the SGA constitution in Fall 2008 to allow for executive cabinet members to make emergency expenditures, according to Student Publications archives.

DaMetz said the funding should go through because he doesn’t plan to present the bill to Dee Llanusa, coordinator of student activities, until next semester.

“Technically, it’s our money, so we can do what we want with it,” said Sen. David Scott (business), during Tuesday’s meeting.

Sen. John Davis (graduate/law-at-large) said Student Senate needs to develop new polices in how to fund events happening at the beginning of the semester.

“Based on the laws we have in place and the precedent, I think it was handled correctly,” he said. “But I also think that perhaps there might be a void in the system.”
“It’s something we need to look at. If you look at accounting standards, there’s a matching principle that says we’re not allowed to record expenditures in a particular quarter or a particular month that weren’t incurred during that time.”

Sen. Long said he had to present the bill during Tuesday’s meeting.

“OWL is a nonprofit organization and they could potentially be in a bind if they didn’t know their amount of funding until the middle of January,” he said.

3 comments
John Riesenberg
John Riesenberg

There seems to be a little confusion about the spending process.

Yes, Student Senate did pass a bill for an event next semester funded with next semester's appropriations. The key is that nothing has been spent, nor will anything be spent until after next semester's budget is passed.

We could see where the confusion could come from. If the Senate used next semester's appropriations to fund an event for this semester, then there would be a violation. In this case there is not.

The Senate DOES have the authority to allocate funds not yet budgeted, according to Section I Article V of the OCU SGA Bylaws: "A motion for any expenditure that has not been allocated in the OCU-SGA budget must be presented in bill form to the Appropriations Committee.."

The procedure was followed and the Bill was correctly presented to the and passed by the Student Senate.

Finally we do have the money. All of SGA's money for the school year was recieved in July.

No money was spent that we do not have.

thecampusonline
thecampusonline

“Only OCU-SGA monies which have been allocated through the OCU-SGA budget, organizational allotments, or Senate legislation and approved by the Senate may be spent unless provided for elsewhere in the constitution or by-laws,” according to Section II of Article VII of the SGA constitution.

There is no amendment or clarification in the constitution which states that funding may be rolled over to next semester. Had there had been an amendment to the constitution prior to the approval of this legislation, Senators would not have broken the constitution.

Senators allotted money which they do not yet have and have not yet been guaranteed.

David Scott
David Scott

On clarification, student senate did not break the rules of the SGA constitution at the November 30th 2010 meeting. The fact of the matter was that because of the unique situation no one currently serving on senate had dealt with a bill that had "roaming" funding. This simply means that the money that will eventually fund and support the OWL Wizard Rock Charity Ball on February 5th, 2011 will be from a different pool of money than the current rolling appropriations. It is correct that we do not know exactly how much will be in rolling appropriations next semester, however we can estimate approximately how much we will be able to work with thanks to previous budgets and historical reference. In addition, the rules and by-laws that we work with are meant to be helpful tools to allow us to serve students to our best ability. We recognize that in certain scenarios we have to make the best decisions we can with the information we have at that time. If YOU are looking for more information please visit the SGA website at www.ocusga.com and become a friend of ours on facebook. We will keep YOU updated and informed on everything that YOUR student government is working on.

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