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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Congress discusses deficit, Summers' veto

For the fiscal year 2015, student government has a net deficit of $209,498.01 — and while Congress usually has a net deficit, this is the first year student government has been in debt.

Priyesh Krishnan, chairperson of the finance committee, said the numbers are not exact because the budgeting process looks back at the year. The exact numbers will not be available until the end of the fiscal year, on June 30.

The net deficit is made up of revenue minus the expenditures of student government during the year. Krishnan said for the past six years, Student Congress has overspent its funds, but until this past year, there has always been a cushion.

Krishnan and Student Body Treasurer Lee Beckman have been working on ways to fix the debt without hurting current students.

“It’s not an easy problem, but we’re asking students to manage it … we need to give them the tools,” Krishnan said.

On Tuesday, at the first full congress meeting of the semester, members mostly discussed the debt and a Student Activities Fund Office bill recently vetoed by Student Body President Houston Summers.

The SAFO bill was introduced by Krishnan last semester. He wanted to set a number for how much money Congress gives to SAFO so that budgeting decisions are easier.

Summers vetoed the bill, saying there might be misinterpretation by future governing bodies.

“I am concerned that the $140,000 number in the bill will be seen as a cap and not as a minimum,” he said in a letter he sent to Student Congress. “It is our responsibility to make sure SAFO operates.” Congress had many questions and opinions about the bill.

John Anagnost, chairperson of the rules and judiciary committee, said he did not see how overriding the veto would have any real risk. He said if there need to be changes, Student Congress can easily amend it.

Even though he stands by the bill as it is, Krishnan said he thinks members of Student Congress should not override the bill. He wants more voices to be heard on the issue.

Other Notables:

  • Newly elected Graduate and Professional Student Federation President Dylan Russell said he wants to move away from the drama between GPSF and Student Congress and work on helping students.
  • GPSF will hold a town hall to discuss next steps on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at a location to be determined.
  • Phillip Jester was elected to the Ethics Committee following a member resignation.
  • Student Congress set a date to sponsor a debate in the upcoming student body president election. The debate will be Feb. 2.

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