Full proposal for Senate tax increase

Proposal on GSS Senate Tax Increase

September 20, 2011


For the past three years – FY 2009-FY2011 –  the Graduate Student Senate has been running on a deficit averaging $17,719. For FY 2012, the current projections are to have a small surplus but this must be adjusted to take into consideration the summer employment of the GSS President and Treasurer (approximately $8,421: more than summer 2010, but still far less than summer 2006), which was decided as crucial to the operations of GSS. Their summer workload has included but not limited to revising of GSS Constitution/Bylaws, addressing Family Housing increase, UHS-health insurance changes, changes in the student code of conduct, upgrading/revising Senate system, and the proposal to increase GSS Senate Tax. Taking this employment into consideration, GSS, for the fourth year in a row, will be running a deficit. This year the deficit is projected at $7,392.00. Continuing to operate on a deficit is unsustainable and will deplete the GSS reserves – currently at $78,000 (rounded to the nearest 1,000) – in five years. What follows is a closer examination of the need to increase the GSS Senate Tax.


1.)   GSO line item funding is projected to be $9,450 for FY 2012. GSS would like to grant up to $1,000 in funding for each GSO/academic year but rarely has been able to do so over the past 4 years.[1] If GSS were to provide $1,000 to each GSO (currently 18 active as of 9-18-11) the amount would equal $18,000; and to grant at least $500, the amount would equal $9,000. GSOs provide important scholarly events as well as a social outlet for its graduate student members thus strengthening graduate student ties and improving student life. Currently we are financially strapped to offer such funding


2.)   Childcare Assistance Program is projected to spend $30,000 for FY 2012 down from $35,000 in 2010.  As we all know childcare is expensive and we would like to offer all families that apply for childcare more assistance. In addition, the number of applicants has increased over the past two years resulting in less funding/family. We would propose to raise the total assistance amount to $40,000 for FY 2013 and $45,000 for FY 2014.


3.)   The Voice is one of the most significant ways GSS communicates with the graduate student population and is currently only accessible online. We would envision that the Voice would be accessible both online and in print form. In order to bring back the print form we would like to raise the FY 2012 projected funding from $1,500 to  $3,000. This is still lower than FY 2011 but would allow for up to 6 publications/academic year.


4.)   There are a number of agencies outside of GSS that request GSS funding. These agencies include: Everywoman’s Center, Office of Family Resources, Student Legal Services, Student Union Art Gallery, Student Union Craft Center, and EWC/GWN. These outside agencies are projected to account for $125,327 in funding for FY 2012. This projected amount is far short of meeting the financial requests and obligations that GSS has with these agencies. See below:


Outside Agency

Requested Funding

FY 2012 Projected Funding

Everywoman’s Center



Office of Family Resources



Student Legal Services Office[2]



Student Union Art Gallery



Student Union Craft Center



GWN (EWC)[3]







In order to fulfill all obligations, an increase of $62, 349 would be required (see footnotes 2-4).


5.)   To support the Graduate Women’s Network: Funding for GWN has been at $1500/academic year. This current level of funding has been minimally sufficient but increases might be necessary if activities wish to be maintained or new activities added. We propose funding of $2,000


6.)   In addition to the different programs and agencies that are funded by GSS, GSS operational costs are projected to increase from $136,598 for FY 2011 to $148,693 for FY 2012. Operational costs include everything from labor, office equipment and supplies, GSS social functions, and miscellaneous (e.g. water, plasticware, etc). Even though these numbers demonstrate a substantial increase, GSS has attempted to decrease these costs within the past five years by cutting positions or reducing the number of hours worked (often both). To fully staff GSS during the academic year (6 positions at 20hours/week) and the summer (3 positions at 10hours/week), the total labor costs (wages and fees e.g. curriculum fee and health and welfare) would be $195,443. Additional operational costs in recent years have been budgeted at $5,000. We would propose these additional operational costs to $10,000 in order to cover additional social functions, providing lunch during GSS meetings, new computers, etc. Total operational budget would then be $205,443 or an increase over $56,000 from FY 2012.



In considering points 1-6, GSS total expenses would be $457,619 (figure uses minimal projected proposed dollar amounts with the addition of “Total Admin. Overhead,” equaling $12,000, which is a necessary cost paid to the University). The FY 2012 revenue is projected at $335,000 (3,350 graduate studentsmultiplied by $100, the current Senate Tax) or $122,619 less than the minimal desired amount. Revenue is projected by considering the number of graduate students who will pay the senate tax, which is partially affected by the number of incoming graduate students to the University. The Graduate School projects new enrollment of graduate students at the University for 2011/2012 to increase substantially but because enrollment fluctuates it is only reliable in determining financial revenue but does not assure financial stability of the organization.


In consideration of GSS’s current financial troubles, we propose the following senate tax increase. To note, the tax has not been increased since 2007 and has only been increased twice – in back to back years – in the past ten 10 years and has only increased by $20 in the past 18 years. Additionally, Li Gu, the former GSS Treasurer, along with the finance committee, proposed a senate tax increase in 2010, which was approved by the GSS Senate but stalled once it reached the University Board of Trustees. The tax increase was eventually voted “down” by the Board due to Massachusetts state budgetary concerns, which effected University budget decisions i.e. fee increases. Lastly, any Senate Tax increase and additional increases must be approved by a 2/3 vote of the GSS Senate and follow the guidelines set out by the GSS Constitution and Bylaws; and, it must also be approved by the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees.



The GSS tax increase proposal:


1.)   $20 increase in one year:

The Senate tax will increase $20 per year ($10 per semester) to $120 per year ($60 per semester) per tax paying graduate student. A 20% increase overall. This increase would raise an additional $67,000 bringing the revenue total to $402,000. While this total is short of desired revenue, it would put GSS on a path to being financially secure.

[1] The maximum limit had been $2500 in past years but has been greatly reduced because of budgetary concerns.

[2] GSS and SGA have an agreement to financially support Student Legal Services Office (SLSO). This agreement holds SGA accountable for 75% of the funding for SLSO, while GSS provides the remaining 25%. In recent years GSS has not been able to meet its financial obligations set out in this agreement nor was it able to meet the request of SLSO to provide 15% of funding to this agency for FY 2012. If it were to meet its obligations of 25% it would require GSS to provide $120,149.00 to SLSO, which is $54,149 more than what was committed to them in FY2012.

[3] This refers to the payment of the GWN coordinator position.

[4] If GSS were to fulfill its obligations and requests to fully fund these outside agencies the total would be $187,676.00.



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