Editor's Note: The original version of this article indicated student service agencies receive over $370,000, which cover the cost of Lobo Spirit. That is incorrect — the funds cover all ASUNM agencies. The article has been corrected. The Daily Lobo apologizes for any confusion.
Some representatives in the Associated Students of UNM are looking to redesign the way ASUNM money is distributed.
If passed, the legislation will require ASUNM balance forwards to be approved by the full Senate. As it stands, a seven-person finance committee is required to pass the balance forward.
Balance forwards are extra money not used by ASUNM entities, called student service agencies. Agencies retain 80 percent of their end-of-year surplus, and the remaining 20 percent returns to the ASUNM general fund.
“We need this bill to pass to make sure we get veteran eyes on (balance forwards) before they get approved,” said Sen. Theo Aufrichtig, a sponsor of the bill.
Aufrichtig hopes the change will increase transparency of the process and facilitate more Senator feedback.
This year, the Finance Committee approved over $100,000 in extra funds that will be redistributed throughout ASUNM. Specifically, $18,877 will be going to Lobo Spirit, $19,736 to Student Special Events and $18,157 to the general government account.
Lobo Spirit organizes events like Red Rally, Student Special Events coordinates numerous speakers and concerts and the general government account primarily pays for salaries and scholarships for the executive office.
Within the general government account, $1,500 will go to pay for “other supply costs” with $850 covering “refreshments,” the balance forward reflects.
On top of redesigning the distribution process, the bill would also extend the period agencies can request the balance forward from five weeks to 10 weeks after the start of the fall semester.
Though there was some resistance to the effort during the Steering and Rules Committee hearing, the main pushback came from the executive desk.
“I urge the Senate to continue to work in full Senate to pass a bill that is effective for both the executive and legislative branches while increasing financial transparency,” said President Noah Brooks in a written statement.
The day after the legislation passed its committee, Brooks expressed his concerns with sponsors of the bill in a private, in-office meeting.
As president, Brooks is charged with overseeing the budget and managing leadership for the eight student service agencies. Part of the position’s responsibilities include compiling the balance forwards and funding internal line items cut by Senators the year prior.
Combined, student service agencies receive over $370,000, which cover the cost of all ASUNM agencies. As a whole, ASUNM entities receive $510,000 — 74 percent of the available student organization funds.
The total includes the agencies’ budgets, Senate budget, payroll for the executive staff and the financing of a $56,000 administrative account.
The administrative account primarily funds a UNM Staff Employee’s salary and benefits.
On average, ASUNM budgets were cut 26 percent — 29 percent less than the 55 percent cuts to traditional student organizations like clubs. ASUNM entities are the sole student organization able to utilize unused funds as student organizations’ end-of-year surplus reverts to the general fund.
The bill will need at least 11 votes to pass at the Senate meeting Wednesday, which will take place 6 p.m. on the third floor of the Student Union Building, Lobo A and B.
Brendon Gray is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers ASUNM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.