Proposed budgets wind their way through hearings, different boards before gaining final approval
This eleven-part series is an in-depth look into the 2007 University of Colorado Student Union budgeting process. Every year, UCSU is charged with distributing more than $30 million in student fees, controlling more money than any other student body in the nation. This series, running over the two-week period that the budgets sit in the hands of the Legislative Council, will explore the process, the people and the effects of the decisions made by your student leaders.
The University of Colorado Student Union budgeting process is long and often difficult. To demonstrate what the budget goes though from start to finish, The Campus Press spoke with campus leaders that have the greatest impact on the budgeting process.
UCSU Budgets 2007: CP’s 11-day Series
Part 1 | The budgeting process – How it works
Part 2 | Ups and downs – Tracking the past
Part 3 | A hardline approach – Determined council seeking 0 percent
Part 4 | Rec Center – Unscathed, but for how long?
Part 5 | UMC – Between a rock and a hard place
Part 6 | Wardenburg – Struggling to stay afloat
Part 7 | Ghosts of budgets past – Previous mistakes haunt Wardenburg today
Part 8 | A community responds – Students on their health center
Part 9 | Taking the brunt – Advocates in danger of losing their programs
Part 10 | Life changer or money waster? Controversial alcohol program on the block
Part 11 | In the public eye – Bracing for the $30 million dollar decisions
The three major cost centers on campus are Wardenburg Health Center, the UMC and the Rec Center. To begin the process, the director of the cost center and his or her staff members meet to create the first draft of the budget.
Once the budget is written, it is presented to a group of students known as the center’s joint board. Each joint board meets regularly throughout the year to discuss the affairs of each cost center.
Once the joint board tweaks the draft to its liking, a vote is taken to send the budget to the finance board.
Carlos Garcia, the director of the UMC, said the process is a great learning experience, giving students first-hand experience with budgets.
“Many students on the board have never worked with budgets like this. It is a big leap of education,” said Garcia.
Finance Board is an advisory group to the UCSU Legislative Council. Once Finance Board gets possession of the budget, they have at least two hearings with each cost center and its corresponding joint board committee.
Amit Mathur, a senior finance major and the chair of Finance Board, said that it is beneficial to meet with the joint board committees and cost center directors multiple times.
“It’s good to hear them twice to get a real good feel about what their needs are before we make our recommendations,” Mathur said.
Between the first and second hearings, Finance Board makes recommendations to the joint board as for how to adjust their budgets for the next meeting. These adjustments can include potential cuts or additions.
After the hearings are over, Finance Board votes to forward to the budget to Legislative Council.
When the budget reaches the Legislative Council, more readings of the budget take place. Each cost center has their budget reviewed separately by Legislative Council. UCSU student senators now have the chance to ask the joint board and cost center directors specific questions about their budgets.
“Sometimes we receive a fair hearing, but other times it appears that decisions are made regardless of what we provide,” Garcia said.
Garcia declined to comment on whether he thought this year’s budget was interpreted fairly by Legislative Council.
After two hearings–sometimes more–the legislative board votes on which budget scenario they want to pass on. After it is voted upon, the budget is sent to the tri-executives for signatures.
Once the budget reaches the tri-executive members, they can approve or veto it. If the budgets are vetoed, they get sent back to Legislative Council for further consideration.
After signatures are granted, the budget is finally sent to the Colorado Board of Regents for final approval.
Regent Cindy Carlisle, from Boulder, said that although the Regents have the final say in the budget decision, they do take into account what the students decide.
“Unless there is something included in the budgets that warrants the Regents’ concern, it is generally accepted that the students have autonomy,” Carlisle said.
Once the Regents receive the budget from the Legislative Council, and also the university budget from the chief financial officer of CU, they start the decision-making process.
If the campus budgets are approved once voted upon, then the Regents move on to approve the overall university system budget. This includes all CU campuses. The budget is then forwarded to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and then forwarded one last time to the state legislature.
The final step is the approval from the state legislature.
The 2007-2008 budget is currently in phase three with the Legislative Council. The next Legislative Council meeting will take place tonight at 7 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.
Tomorrow: A long history, a look into the past – decisions that still shape budgets today.
Stay tuned to thecampuspress.com for continued coverage, live blogs of the Thursday night meetings and breaking developments as they arise.