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2014 budget recommendations require explanation

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.

Evan Watson/The News

Evan Watson/The News

Interim President Tim Miller made a large step in improving transparency by emailing students the revised budget recommendations for 2013.

Based on the feedback received on The Murray State News’ Facebook page, students appreciated being made aware of where exactly their money could be going.

Some of the recommendations were reasonable and cost effective, such as reducing the original four vice presidents to three. We were also pleased to see free parking tags for faculty and staff removed; a sore spot for us, as students must wait in line to pay for a tag each fall.

However, there were other sections of the budget revision that still seemed vague and would require more explanation as to their effectiveness in reducing costs. Item No. 40 mentions making Murray State a smoke-free campus, but fails to give any insight on how this will save money for the University.

If anything, it could cost more for Murray State to fund regulation of this new policy as well as alienate any potential money from tobacco businesses.

The school parking system, which is already in disarray due to lack of parking space, was also mentioned as item No. 49. The recommendation states intentions of dividing the red parking tag (off-campus students) into three or four different colors, making the purchase of parking tags based on seniority.

The motive of the recommendation is to create another reason for underclassmen to live on campus, but freshmen already experience this by having to park at the football stadium. It is unfair to subject freshmen to the short end of these new recommendations. They also make up the largest demographic of the student body. After seeing the largest freshmen class enter Murray State in history last year, we should be more accommodating.

Underclassmen would not be the only group to be hit by changes in parking. Item No. 6 would increase the parking tag fee from $35 to $55 for all students.

Deliberately raising the parking tag price discourages students from buying one altogether, which could hurt the cause more than help it. This change would recently precede the raise in parking ticket prices, which doubled at the beginning of the semester.

It is hard to put all the blame on the Budget Task Force Committee when the state of Kentucky is failing us the most. Murray State has received $48 million from the state, which does not even cover half of the salary for faculty, much less the cost for students to study here.

Various campus groups will have discussions about the budget and ensure constant transparency throughout the process. The Budget Task Force subcommittees consist of students like us who will be equally affected by the changes. After further review and evaluation of their effectiveness, the list of recommendations will reach the Board of Regents in its final stage March 2014.

This act of transparency is an invitation for us to ask questions and criticize where it is needed. As students, it is our obligation to have a voice and let the committee know our reactions to these recommendations before they are put into practice.