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SGA discusses budget cut at weekly meeting

At the SGA meeting on Monday, SGA adopted a formal resolution of disagreement in response to the House and Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee’s proposal that the budget for Georgia colleges and universities be reduced by a total of $300 million.
On Feb. 25, Georgia’s 35 higher learning institutions were asked by the University System of Georgia (USG) to prepare a statement explaining how each school would compensate for the possible budget cut for the 2010-2011 school year. The target is based on the expectation of Georgia’s state revenue to continue to decline. This proposal comes after a total of $360 million budget reduction since July 1, 2008.
President Kelli Cody and Senator Ryan Brown presented the resolution of disagreement, but not before letting the senate know the gravity of the situation. Cutting out this $300 million is the equivalent of completely cutting off 23 of the 35 institutions. If the budget cut was approved and universities did nothing but raise tuition, the price of tuition would have to be raised 77 percent to compensate for the loss. VSU would stand to lose $9 million in addition to the $15 million lost from Aug. 2008 to now.
The budget proposal has set in motion a series of events, including the plans for Student Advisory Council (SAC) members to lobby the state capital on March 15. Cody informed the senate that UGA’s SGA president, Katie Barlow, is in the process of contacting the legislators and representatives from the appropriations committee to set up formal meetings on that day.
“This is a rally for those who would be affected by these proposed budget cuts and anyone who may have concern for the educational system in Georgia,” Cody commented in an email.
“The more people we get, the better,” stated Brown. “The legislature should consider that we as students cannot take such a cut when other options are available, such as a tobacco tax.”
As well as the March 15 day at the capital, students can access the following URL to sign a petition against the proposed budget reduction: www.petitiononline.com/georgia1/petition.html
“It is very important that we get as many people as possible to sign it. It is a vitally important aspect to our cause,” Kelli commented in an email.
President Cody and Senator Brown advised students who would like to be proactive against this proposal to contact Tim Golden, the senator of the 8th district and/or Amy Carter, the representative of the 175th district.
SGA Vice President Chris Nish stated in an email, “I would recommend that students write their representatives if they are not happy about this budget cut. You can write the representatives from Valdosta, or from your hometown.”
Also during Monday’s meeting, the senate heard from Ingred Hall and Brian Gerber, two representatives from VECA (Valdosta Early Childhood Academy). VECA is a school within VSU that houses sixth- and seventh-graders who have a low chance of finishing high school and instills the importance of school in them at an early age. Hall and Gerber spoke to the senate about their need for volunteers to tutor and spend time with the kids. Hall informed the senate that VECA will be willing to work around the work and class schedules of the student volunteers.
Then, the senate attempted to vote on the SGA dress code. Senators expressed concerns about the section of the dress code that prohibited jeans from being worn with both styles of SGA shirts. The executive board allowed the senators time for questions, discussion, and amendments, but ended up tabling the issue due to time.
Finally, Secretary Avraye Henry informed the senate that six new senate seats were now open for nominations.
Although non-senators cannot vote on an issue brought up in a meeting, students are allowed to attend these meetings, held every Monday at 8 p.m. in Meeting Room 1 of the Student Union, and speak during discussion.

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