Tuesday, April 7, 2020

ASMSU proposes first tax increase in 14 years

February 25, 2020
<p>The General Assembly sits at the ASMSU meeting at the International Center on Jan. 30, 2020.</p>

The General Assembly sits at the ASMSU meeting at the International Center on Jan. 30, 2020.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

If voted by the student body, the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, would increase its general student tax by 50 cents, the first increase since 2006.

The resolutions to keep the current tax, and allow for the student body to vote on the increase were passed at the Feb. 13 General Assembly, or GA, meeting. Voting for this potential increase will take place March 30 to April 3.

The general tax has to be renewed every three years. Although the different components of the tax have been altered in the last 14 years, this will be the first time the general tax is increasing as a whole, said Tayte Rider, ASMSU vice president of finance and operations. 

“(The tax) has remained the same for quite some time now,” Rider said. “It's been about 14 years since our last tax increase. And throughout that period of time, we've seen rising levels of costs for providing the same levels of service. And with this tax rate specifically, we're of the mindset that it allows us to continue to provide the same level of service, ... but to do so in a manner that continues to incentivize ASMSU to operate efficiently in our operations.”

ASMSU’s tax currently sits at $16.75, and could increase to $17.25. 

Using total enrollment from the Summer 2019 through Spring 2020 semesters, this 50 cent tax increase would generate an estimated $47,000 in additional tax revenue, according to the referendum.

In the 14 years since its last increase, minimum wage has increased by $2.70. Additionally, one of the major reasons for the proposed increase is that the cost of the current services offered by ASMSU have gone up.

According to the proposal, the cost of ASMSU's services increased more than $40,000.

The budget of the general tax goes to different departments within ASMSU, primarily the Student Allocations Board, student legal services and payroll. 

The cost of the legal services offered to students has increased $14,000 in the last three years, and ASMSU's payroll has increased by about $38,000. 

“With legal services, we help students in some of their darkest, most vulnerable times, providing them support that they otherwise could not have gotten,” ASMSU President Mario Kakos said. “Most of the students that utilize legal services would not have been able to afford it. So, really emphasizing what ASMSU does in terms of ensuring that we meet the needs of the students with services and advocacy efforts.”

At the General Assembly meetings, the majority of concern from a few GA members was the addition to the students’ tuition. However, it was clarified that these are two separate things. 

After the GA voted in favor of the resolution, they are working on the language for the student ballot. 

“Those representing our students in the General Assembly have the decision as to what's most conducive for student understanding in terms of the explanation of what the tax rule is, what the tax increase is ... because it's important to really have that nailed down,” Rider said. “So students on every spectrum of understanding in ASMSU can understand what they're voting on, whether they know the ins and outs of ASMSU very well, or they've never even heard of ASMSU, they're still able to understand entirely what they're voting on.”

A lot of students are not aware of all of the services they provide, and both Kakos and Rider believe that the importance of voting towards this increase supports the student government. 

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