Budget hits A.S., too

Associated Students officials are fighting a gross misconception at Chico State University: that the A.S. is flush with cash.

Student leaders want the campus community to know that it’s not true and the A.S.'s bottom line will suffer just as much as the university’s as the state’s budget situation worsens.

As enrollment goes down, so will A.S. coffers, along with its ability to retain jobs and provide services to students.

“We’re going to have to make drastic cuts—hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts,” A.S. President Michael Dailey told the Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC) on Dec. 8. “This is very real.”

Each semester, Chico State students pay $41 into what’s called the Activity Fee, a fund that pays for more than 40 programs ranging from the Children’s Center to the Women’s Center to environmental and volunteer services. It’s feared that the school will have 1,000 fewer students next year, and that translates to less money in the Activity Fund, which this year totaled $1.3 million, plus another $600,000 in grants.

Without cuts, reported A.S. Executive Vice President Adam Dondro, the Activity Fee budget will be $84,577 short of meeting its reserves in 2004-05. If employees are given no raises, it could buy the A.S. another year in the black.

On the up side, A.S. Food Services made $27,100 this year, compared to ending 2001-02 $147,662 in the red, and the Bookstore made a net profit of $219,276.

Student government officers will mull over the budget at a retreat. The A.S., a nonprofit auxiliary organization, must devise its spending plan by April 2004, which comes before the governor’s final budget recommendations will be known. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to levy cuts on the California State University system, and in anticipation of that student, faculty and employee groups are collaborating for a joint lobbying effort next year. Dailey has already met with Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico, seeking support.

Dailey said after the GAC meeting that it’s too soon to say what could be cut from the budget, or whether the A.S. might consider asking students to vote to raise their Activity Fees sooner than Spring 2007.

He added that before any cuts are made, "I want to look at what we promised to students."