By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The ASUA budget has been passed after several attempts to compromise, but the question of an audit is still an issue in both legislative bodies.
The third draft of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona's $535,600 budget was approved unanimously by both the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate and Professional Student Council Wednesday.
Members of the GPSC had refused to approve the budget until money was set aside to cover the cost of an audit.
At Wednesday's Central Coordinating Council meeting, President T.J. Trujillo and Vice President of Programs and Services Anndi Kawamura suggested a compromise which would allow students to decide during ASUA's regular spring election whether or not ASUA should fund the $4,000 audit.
If the referendum was not passed by the students, the $4,000 would be donated to ASUA's scholarship fund. If the audit was approved by students and did not cost the entire $4,000, the remainder would be given to the fund.
The money would not come out of ASUA's current budget, but would be set aside from any revenue ASUA received from the ASUA Bookstore's profits.
At Wednesday's GPSC meeting, Kyle Pennington, a finance and accounting graduate student, said the compromise would not be acceptable and suggested that GPSC members should postpone voting on the budget.
Trujillo then announced that he would agree to pay $4,000 for the audit out of his $12,477 presidential operations budget, if the first $4,000 profit from the ASUA bookstore would be repaid to his budget. He said he has no current estimates of how much money ASUA will receive from the bookstore and added that student government is not guaranteed to receive $4,000.
"It just got to the point where it was ridiculous and just needed to be resolved," Trujillo said. "I still believe there is a better use for the $4,000, but if this single issue is going to keep ASUA from operating, it is worth spending .007 percent of the budget on."
GPSC members then agreed to split the cost of the audit with Trujillo until both budgets could be repaid from bookstore profits, Pennington said.
Trujillo also said he was upset by GPSC's implication that he or other members of ASUA were unethical and said he agreed to pay for the audit to show students that ASUA had nothing to hide.
Pennington said one his concerns with the initial compromise was that the referendum
ultimately made students choose between an audit and additional scholarship money. "By presenting the students with this choice, we won't see how the constituents really feel about an audit."
Pennington said another problem he had with Trujillo and Kawamura's proposal was the stipulation that "if sources can be found within the university, funds must stay within the university system."
"If the administration does the audit, I believe they would have strong incentives to find some sort of mismanagement," he said. "Perhaps the administration would want to disempower students."
Pennington said GPSC members are still unhappy that the agreement reached with Trujillo only funds an audit for this year's budget.
"Let me give an analogy. I balance my checkbook every month. Just auditing the budget once would be like only balancing my checkbook once and assuming forever that it was correct because it was okay that one time," said GPSC Vice President Matthew Troff. "I don't see why there is a problem spending 1 percent of the budget to justify what is being done with the other 99 percent."
Pennington added, "We have faith in T.J. and his administration but in future years we don't know what we'll get."
He said GPSC plans to pass a resolution next Thursday that would prevent future bodies from passing a budget unless money was included in it to fund an audit. He also said he wants to encourage the Senate to approve the resolution.
Brad Milligan, Senate Chairman, said he still thinks ASUA does not need to be audited and that there are better ways to spend the $4,000. He also said student input would have been the best way to resolve the problem.
Sen. Rhonda Wilson said she disagrees with GPSC members' statements that the funds needed for an audit would only constitute a "small part of ASUA's budget." She said three beneficial programs including the Campus Acquaintance Rape Educators, the Student Health Advisory Committee and the Association of Students with Disabilities could be funded with the amount of money spent on the audit.
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