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Election recap highlights effects on higher education

Election Days come and go every two years, but this past election was said to be one of the most crucial for Arizona higher education students.

ASU’s graduate student government teamed up with the Arizona Students’ Association to host a debriefing of the state election Tuesday night on the Tempe campus to inform students of the significance of the results.

“There are a lot of post-election analyses, but we wanted one that focused solely on higher education,” said Graduate and Professional Student Association director Rhian Stotts.

The debriefing session was intended to let students know that their participation in the election was significant and their decisions actually impact the results, she said.

Students impacted the election by voting for candidates that prioritize higher education, Stotts said.

ASA government affairs director David Martinez III led the event and he said the biggest issue is the budget crisis in Arizona.

On a percentage basis, Arizona has the largest budget deficit of all the other states, according to Martinez’s presentation.

ASA is always concerned that the state will choose to take money from the universities’ funds to try and balance the state’s budget, Martinez said.

“Universities’ budgets are always on the chopping block for cuts,” he said.

That is why it is vital for students to be involved in politics, he said. It’s important for students to have an influence on what takes place at the Capitol.

Republicans took the top five state seats for the first time since 1994. It’s important for any lobbying group to maintain good relationships with government officials, Martinez said.

ASA has worked closely with Gov. Jan Brewer the past few years. She participated in a ceremonial signing of a common course numbering bill in September — a bill that ASA lobbied for passage.

“This is really critical for ASA because we have been working very closely with Gov. Jan Brewer,” Martinez said.

ASA is a non-partisan group and does not publically support Brewer, but her relationship with the organization may be beneficial in the future.

The student lobbying group’s relationship with the governor will help in the future, he said during the analysis presentation.

ASA represents the 130,000 students from ASU, UA and NAU, and the group works to make sure state government officials are doing what they can to keep tuition low, Martinez said.

“We’re going to hold their feet to the fire,” Martinez said. “We’re going to ask, ‘Are you really for education?’”

The failure of Proposition 302, which was the Arizona First Things First program repeal, was a big success for higher education, Stotts said.

The current program transfers revenue from an 80-cent sales tax on cigarettes to the early childhood development program.

The proposition’s failure means that the money will still be going toward that program. This was a success for education on all levels, Stotts said.

“If we don’t have that kind of early intervention, we may lose these people down the line,” she said.

Martinez elaborated on the “student pipeline” during the presentation, which basically means that a student’s early education would affect the student down the line, he said.

Fourth-year computer science graduate student Jeff Boyd attended the event because he felt that it’s important for students to be as well informed as possible about election results.

“Things are changing in Arizona and it could be a blessing or a curse,” he said. “So it’s important to know what’s going on.”

The presentation is available for the public to view at

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