Court’s interpretation of financial bylaw, cause for concern

Perla Lara

ASCC Court interprets Financial Code Bylaw 4.24 one week before presenting the proposed $1,700,000 budget for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Due to the court’s interpretation any amendments to the budget would have to be discussed and approved by the Budget and Finance Committee before being approved by senate.

Financial Code Bylaw 4.24 states, “The final ASCC Budget as approved by the Committee on Budget and Finance will be submitted to the designated district administrator for review, Senate approval, and eventual review by the Board of Trustees.”

The court has interpreted that to mean senate only has the right to approve and disapprove of the budget and does not have the authority to make amendments to the budget.

Senate would make recommendations for amendments, which would then be discussed made or perhaps not made by the Committee on Budget and Finance.

With only three ASCC Senate meetings left in this spring semester; that means an approval of the budget must be reached for funds to be available for the 2017-2018 academic year.

It also means that any amendments senate recommends would not be approved until the next senate meeting on Wednesday, May 3 and that’s only if the Committee on Budget and Finance agrees to make the amendments.

Per the ASCC bylaws the purpose of the annual budget is to provide funding for the ASCC program of activities and services, and should also reflect the educational needs of the college by placing a priority on its support of instructionally related programs.

It is up to a Budget and Finance Committee and ASCC Senate to approve how to spend that money.

Events like welcome day, conferences, club activities and the salaries of some students and staff get paid from the budget.

With an impending deadline and the pressure of not having a repeat of last year, in which senate did not approve a budget and hence delayed funds being distributed; senate has created legislation to change the bylaws.

During the Wednesday, April 26 senate meeting legislation was presented to change the bylaw 4.24 to allow senate to make amendments to the bylaw.

The legislation was accepted by the senate at the meeting, and is now awaiting to be signed into law by ASCC President Saul Lopez-Pulido.

He said that he is hesitant in signing immediately without a thorough review, because it was a decision that the court had decided on.

Lopez-Pulido said, “The change in the bylaw [by senate] would give senate complete authority over the budget. I tend to disagree with that I think there’s checks and balances in government and I think they’re necessary.”

He also said the process of interpreting the bylaw by court and senate creating a legislation to change the bylaw is how a government democracy works.

Lopez-Pulido also said, “That court ruling made it almost seem like ‘you have to say yes to this budget’ which was never I don’t think anyone’s intention. I think we’re all trying to just make sure we don’t get into a rollover [budget].”

To prevent the rollover from happening he said he has made sure to document all the Committee on Budget and Finance’s budget recommendations. ASCC Senate meetings have also been recorded and broadcast by WPMD radio club.

“We have a good clerk, staff members taking notes, so that when everything is approved we have the recording, we took a lot of redundancies to make sure this year [a rollover budget] doesn’t happen,” Lopez-Pulido said.

ASCC Chief Justice Rodrigo Quintas did not have time to answer questions on the current budget or as to why ASCC Court’s interpretation and ruling of bylaw 4.24 occurred the week prior to a proposed budget being presented to senate and not in the initial weeks of creating the budget proposal.

He said on Monday, April 24 he would only have four hours free and need to do homework during that time. Scheduling an appointment for Tuesday, April 25 would not be possible because he would not be in his office because there was no court meeting scheduled and an appointment on Wednesday, April 26 would also not be possible because he would only be in his office during brief moments.

If the committee’s budget recommendation gets approved by senate Lopez-Pulido said, “Look forward to a lot more student engagement because the ASCC is definitely funding $400,000 more of student activities. For sure more conferences, more trips, a lot more events.”