Statewide minimum wage set to change; SA wages will not

As a result of the New York State Assembly’s “Raise the Wage” legislation, the minimum wage will see another increase on Dec. 31. The wage increase will go from $8.00 per hour to $8.75. The wage increase can lead to budgeting complications and cutbacks in various lines. Geneseo’s Student Association dealt with an identical wage increase of 75 cents last year.

Student Association Director of Business Affairs senior Billy Fagan said that SA doesn’t foresee any changes in student pay, but changes will need to be made to ensure such security. Such changes could be, but aren’t limited to: reallocation of funds, an increase of the mandatory student activity fee or changes in office hours for SA-employed students.

“The SA budget uses a 95-5 module, which means that 95 percent of the money is pre-allocated, and 5 percent remains in limbo,” Fagan said. “Last year, there was a squeeze due to the minimum wage increase [of $.75] as well as insurance increases.”

In response to the wage increase last year, SA chose to employ a 96-4 module to ensure that clubs and organizations weren’t hit as hard financially, but the funds that stay in limbo are important to maintain in case of unforeseen expenses and funding requests.

The school will also be voting on a referendum in March to raise the mandatory student activities fee.

“If we increase mandatory activities fee by $5, that’s $10 a year—that’s an additional $55,000, which is pretty good,” Fagan said. “We definitely want to continue paying students for their hard work and maintaining those office hours,” Fagan said.

Unfortunately, the referendum comes after the SA budget review in February. SA will be reviewing the budget without the knowledge of whether the increase will pass, the consequences of which are difficult to plan for.

“What makes it more complicated is that we don’t want to increase it to the point where we have money that we aren’t using,” Fagan said. “We don’t want to take people’s money just to have it sit there.”

On the other hand, SA can’t budget with the increase in the event that it does not pass, putting SA over budget.

As for potential changes in the number of office hours, the assigned hours limit is arbitrary. Most students who work office hours end up working more than their allotted time. Students who receive SA stipends include the SA executive board, certain members of SA standing committees, certain members of The Lamron and Geneseo Student Television editorial boards and certain Student Senate Committees.

Every other year, the Student Association vice president oversees the stipend review, which looks at whether stipends are still feasible and to what degree.

“It’s not easy, but I’ll be working closely with Kate Rebban, our Director of Programs, Personnel and Finances, trying to find new ways to count for minimum wage increases, but insurance is hairier,” Fagan said. “We have budget lines including insurance which are always changing.”