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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Senate approves 2020-21 budget on second reading, no increase in student fees

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Despite a raise in the budget, students will not have to pay more in activity and service fees this year.

The $22,087,482 student activity service fee budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year passed its second reading at the end of Tuesday night’s Student Senate meeting.

The budget, which passed its first reading last week, will be a 3 percent increase from the 2019-2020 budget. However, it will not cost students any extra dollars because it came from an increase of credit hours being taken by students.

The budget was met with a bit more resistance from Inspire senators on its second reading.

The senators pointed out the budget reserved $12,800 for music royalties and included large increases in the RecSports and SG projects budget but didn’t include any allocations for new emergency blue lights on campus or additional funding for the Counseling and Wellness Center.

Cooper Brown, the chair of the SG Budget and Appropriations Committee, said there are other areas of the budget that can fund blue lights and other projects. Brown also said the CWC is financed by the health fee and state legislature.

“Blue lights and live streaming equipment can be addressed through the SG projects line and the Senate line, which both received increases in this budget,” Brown said.

Deputy Minority Party Leader Nikolas Bindi, who had been cautiously supportive of the proposed budget at the last meeting, said he reconsidered his stance after talking to his constituents and other members of his caucus.

Bindi said hearing Wynton White (Impact, Health and Human Performance) suggest increasing funding for Rec Sports would also help improve mental health on campus was what made him take an even stronger oppositional stance.

The Alligator reached out to White, but he could not be reached for comment on this story.

“It’s not very considerate to students who suffer from mental health issues, just brushing them aside and saying, ‘You’d be better if you just exercise more,” Bindi said.

The budget passed with a vote of 48-7.

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Brown said he is happy to meet with anyone who has questions about the budget.

Eight of the nine bills approved by the Judiciary Committee on Monday also received a first reading during the meeting.

Majority Party Leader Branden Pearson, who authored five of the bills that were passed, said he’s happy to see all of the bills pass their first reading.

“I am excited to help provide additional support services for students transitioning to the University of Florida by establishing the First Generation Cabinet and Graduate Student Affairs Cabinet,” Pearson said.

The Commitment to our Constituency Act, which would prevent senators who lost their Senate seats due to absences or expulsion from running for re-election for two election cycles, was removed from the agenda and referred back to the Judiciary Committee.

Bindi said this was due to a formatting error.

All eight of the other bills passed their first reading and will receive a second reading at the next Senate meeting.

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