ASUA court sets budget precedent

By Christie S. Peterson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The controversies surrounding Associated Students President T.J. Trujillo's financial duties came to a conclusion late Wednesday night, when the ASUA Supreme Court ruled against his interpretation of the Constitution.

The plaintiff in the case, the Graduate and Professional Student Council, asked the court to clarify the role of the president in the budgetary process and if he could "freeze" funds by refusing to sign requisitions.

The decision came in four parts, mostly siding with the GPSC.

First, additional bookstore revenues, which totaled $160,000 this year, are to follow normal budgetary processes; the president is to propose a budget that must be approved by the legislative bodies before any spending can occur.

Earlier this month, Trujillo bypassed this process and requested that his accountant transfer an unspecified amount of the $160,000 into the Presidential Expenditures account to cover "emergency" costs, such as workers' salaries and contractual agreements, while the budget was being created.

During the trial, the court asked why there was an emergency situation with the budget, because the original fall allocations were created without a guarantee of further bookstore funds.

In response, Trujillo and ASUA Advisor Jim Drnek admitted that they had anticipated the money mid

during the fall budgetary process, because those funds had been received three times within the last four years.

By insisting that all funds go through legislative approval in the budgetary process, the court established a strong system of checks and balances within ASUA, one of the plaintiffs' goals.

"You're a lot less likely to have two bodies, made up of lots of people, to go off the deep end than one president," said GPSC President Mitzi Forbes.

Justices also ruled that the president may only refuse to sign requisitions for funds already appropriated by the legislatures if the expenditures violated university or Arizona Board of Regents policies, and promised further documents outlining the details of this procedure.

Finally, all monies in the Presidential Expenditures fund were declared to be under the president's discretion and the injunction previously placed by the court on this account was lifted, provided that no funds are appropriated to it without proper procedure.

Although Trujillo was named as the defendant in the case, the court decisions were not directed against him personally, but were constitutional interpretations of his office.

"It's mostly just a precedence case ... just making things clearer," said ASUA Vice President for Programs and Services Anndrea Kawamura, who presented the budget last week when Trujillo refused to do so pending the case. "Now that the budget has been presented, it doesn't really make a difference. Everyone's gotten more personal than they should."

Both sides expressed satisfaction with the decision. Following the trial, defense counsel Douglas Allsworth said, "I believe we presented a very compelling case for our position a very reasonable interpretation of the Constitution but in the end, the court declined to endorse that position. It was a fair hearing and we're satisfied with the result."

Following the verdict, Trujillo said, "Dirtbag's, here I come."

Later, he said, "There is a better use of time than to go through this ... unfortunately, they decided to go through this process and waste student time."

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