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Napolitano: Higher graduation rates should mean more funds for universities
Speech at ASU also touches on young voter turnout
by Sonu Munshi
published on Monday, February 13, 2006
Gov. Janet Napolitano wants to increase state and private aid for Arizona college students, according to plans she outlined at the Young Democrats of Arizona convention Saturday.
"I have recommended to the state Legislature that we more than double what the state has been putting into student aid funding, beginning July 1 in the fiscal year 2007," Napolitano said to the gathering of more than 200, most of whom were students, at ASU's Murdock Hall.
"We're also working with some private entities, and I'm hopeful we'll be able to announce another source of private aid for students within the next month or two," she added.
The governor said the benchmark for success in higher education is an increase in the number of students graduating.
"I am incentivizing universities by saying I will recommend greater funding for them based on the number of students that they graduate and not just admit," she said.
History and political science junior Joe Murphy said he was confident the governor would work on behalf of students.
"If the tuition increase does happen, it will be disappointing, but I'm sure [Napolitano] would do something to bring it down or find some middle ground," he said.
About 100 student members from ASU, NAU, UA, community colleges and other young workers participated in Saturday's convention, which included visits by U.S. Senate candidate Jim Pederson and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard. Another 100 people came just for Napolitano's address.
Napolitano also said she was concerned about low voter turnout among young demographics.
"The youth vote in Arizona represented only 11 percent of the total electorate in the 2002 election," she said.
Napolitano added she hoped the turnout would be "incredibly above average" in 2006.
Physics freshman Eric Thomas said he hoped the candidates would respond to criticism.
"Our leaders need to listen to our concerns," he said. "We have terrible meal plans, reduced number of scholarships and high tuition, which is especially hard for students from the lower classes."
Napolitano echoed this year's State of the State address as she outlined other priorities, such as proposed increases in teachers' salaries, all-day kindergarten and environmental issues.
"I support efforts to increase use of renewable sources of energy," she said. "We ought to be the Persian Gulf of solar energy."
Pederson also addressed convention participants earlier in the day, urging them to become involved in politics.
"You can accomplish the most in the shortest period of time through the political system," he said.
The Young Democrats of Arizona honored Goddard with its first lifetime achievement award.
"Goddard used to be president of the Young Democrats of Arizona, and he has always encouraged us and was a natural fit," said Tony Cani, president of YDAZ.
Franny Sharpe, secretary of the NAU Young Democrats, said she was pleased with the interest politicians showed in the YDAZ members' work.
"Having leaders visit campuses is a tremendous morale-booster," she said. "It's a way for students to get out there and get more votes," she said.
UA secondary education junior David Martinez agreed.
"It's always good to see politicians and senior officials talk to the youth," he said. "There's a lot of apathy and this helps them get involved."
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