The Student Government legislative assembly approved their spring 2021 budget on Feb. 2, including appropriation funds for other student organizations. Spending decreased this year due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of in-person events.
While SG typically has one budget for the entire school year, this year the budget was split by semester. Out of the $112,820 allocated to SG this year, $75,069 was allotted for fall 2020, but not all of those funds were spent. A total of $56,440 is available to spend during spring 2021, including $18,689 of rollover from the fall.
In spring 2021, $37,083 of the total amount available was allocated for special projects. SG financial director Ethan Jones said the special projects funds are used for executive board projects and unpredicted internal SG projects. In fall 2020, the Federal Relations and Longhorn EMS agencies completed a special projects request for T-shirts, said Jones, a public relations and business honors junior.
“We leave money aside for special projects,” Jones said. “That gives us the flexibility to basically appropriate money as the year progresses because we understand when we're making a budget (in the fall) and it's late August or early September, no one knows what they're trying to do in December.”
Jones said they cannot give special projects money to outside student organizations because the process of requesting funds is lengthy, and they do not have the capacity to go through this process year-round. Appropriations are available three times a year, at the start of the fall, spring and summer semesters.
Grant Marconi, chair of the Financial Affairs Committee, said organizations must meet with Veronica Cantu, financial adviser for legislative student organizations, to receive funds from the SG budget.
“Every person who requests money is required to meet with Veronica,” Marconi, a spanish and finance junior, said. “If they don't meet with her, they're ineligible to get funding.”
Jones said SG saw significantly fewer organizations apply than in previous years, and they could not allocate money to projects and events that encouraged in-person gatherings, leading to a significant decrease in spending.
James Counihan, College of Liberal Arts representative, said he hopes the money in special projects will benefit students who are struggling because of the pandemic.
“We're in a pandemic, and people are struggling financially,” Counihan, a government junior, said. “Whether that be funding a mutual aid collective or giving money to the food bank on campus or working with the (University) Co-op to set up some sort of fund to help pay for student books. I think there could have been more leadership in that regard when allocating funds.”
Jones said they cannot donate the money to funds outside of UT even though they would like to, but they also do not have any specific plans for the special projects funds. Any money the current administration does not use will be available for use in the summer by the new administration before they have access to the new budget on Sept. 1.
“I think we'd like to leave the next Student Government administration with a strong summer budget to be able to fulfill any initiatives that … they'd like to do internally, but also, more importantly, how they'd like to impact the broader UT community,” Jones said.