Student body president vetos SGA budget

Moss Brennan and Josie Barnes

After three weeks of debate and discussion, the Student Government Association passed its 2019-20 budget 22-4 on Nov. 5. Student Body President DeJon Milbourne vetoed the budget on Nov. 14. The Senate can override the veto with a two-thirds vote in favor.  

“I have come to this decision for a multitude of reasons. I am confident that after our constitutionally designated Budget and Finance Committee completes their evaluation of the budget, that most of these issues will be resolved,” Milbourne wrote in the veto statement.

The budget includes $27,800 in scholarships and $16,642 for operating expenses. A committee of Senate members met for over 11 hours to determine how to allocate SGA funds internally. 

“The Senate adopted the budget committee’s bill with an overwhelming two-thirds vote. While the president has every right to veto this bill, the statement he provided suggests that his rationale for his veto has more to do with power than progress for the student body,” Senator Devin Mullins said in a statement. “As the introducer of the bill, I will be seeking to override the veto at our Nov. 19 meeting.”

Milbourne listed nine clauses for why he vetoed the budget including clauses 4 through 8 and 10 through 13. 

As of Sept. 25, before the budget was passed, SGA had spent $1,425.16. Money spent included food for various events, shirts for SGA cabinet to wear during the retreat and business cards. 

The new budget would have decreased the amounts for scholarships allocated to the student body president and vice president from $3,500 for the year to $2,500 for the year. The new budget would have reallocated money from the $27,800 scholarship fund to include scholarships for certain Senate positions as well. 

Other than the president and vice president, other members’ amounts decreased to $1,200, and an additional seven people would have been awarded monetary scholarships, including the senate clerk and varying committee chairpersons. 

The bill was extensively debated during the Senate meeting among SGA members Emily Hogan, Connor Schlaline, Jay Gibson and Devin Mullins. 

During the discussion, the floor was yielded to SGA adviser Jeff Cathey; however, when Schlaline, Honors and Academics senator, questioned the yield, he was subsequently shut down by Vice President Michael Davis. Davis said after the meeting he believed Cathey needed to be heard as their adviser, but he would not provide his rationale to Schlaline. 

Cathey declined to comment after the meeting. 

 “I don’t really appreciate that,” Schlaline said. “Generally when I say things, they’re for a reason, I’m not just trying to hold up the business consideration.” 

SGA’s constitution only allows the floor to be yielded to the president of SGA, who can only speak objectively.

Davis said SGA only has one more meeting this semester on Nov. 19, and he is concerned SGA will continue debating its internal budget rather than focusing on App State students.  

“None of this is personal,” Davis said. “I want SGA to shift their focus and do what they’re here to do and ultimately focus on students, because this is not about students, it’s about people and power.”

Victoria Moreno, director of wellness, said, “I support giving credit where credit is due and giving people the money that they deserve for the work they put in. However, realistically, getting that done this year is not something that can be possible.”

Moreno said she is concerned about the challenge SGA will face in getting  administration to approve changes to scholarships halfway through the year.

“It’s frustrating because you’ve given the information, and it feels like there’s a disconnect between what we’re saying and what you’re hearing, and it’s not conducive to the community,” Moreno said.