When Student Government Association officials were hammering out a $15 million budget last year, KnightNews.com had to fight tooth and nail by writing letters to lawyers in Tallahassee to force SGA to fork over public documents showing how they were spending student money. But this year that’s changed.
Under the new leadership of SGA Pro Tempore Josh Miller, the Activity & Service Fee Budget Committee has taken on a level of transparency never before seen in the meetings. He’s publisized the meetings, and posted some of the financial documents KnightNews.com had to fight for before online. In the past, the meetings had drawn criticism for taking place over winter break when students typically leave town.
This year, the committee has set up a live video stream so students can watch how their money is being spent.
KnightNews.com has embedded this stream below:
In addition, Miller has posted a draft copy of the $17 million budget online. The committee is expected to hammer out most of the budget this month, while finishing it up over spring. The Senate will have to vote on it before the end of the fiscal year, which comes in Summer for state agencies, like UCF.
The unprecedented transparency in the A&SF Budget Committees comes at a time when an unprecedented lack of transparency in the executive branch, led by Student Body President Michael Kilbride, is being called into question by senators.
SGA Senate Chairman Fernando Gonzales believes Kilbride’s decision to shut out the senate from seeing how Kilbride spends student money is not permissible policy. KnightNews.com reported earlier this semester when Kilbride sent an email stripping the senate from accessing an electronic database showing how the executive branch was spending its money. The emails came on the same day Kilbride’s lavish $8,000 retreat outside a Disney resort was drawing condemenation on campus after being covered by KnightNews.com, and later, by professional Orlando media outlets.
Chair Gonzales is still waiting for Kilbride to publicly address the issue of shutting the senate out of seeing his spending. Gonzales has also asked for an opinion on the legality of the issue from SGA Attorney General Nicholas Gurney. Once that opinion is released, or if Kilbride provides KnightNews.com a comment on this issue, we will let you know.
Check back for updates on how the budget process is playing out.