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Young Voters Add Political Punch As Budget Session Approaches

November 10, 2008

Albany, NY — A new crop of young New York voters may provide the political punch needed to head off cuts to higher education. There's just one week and counting until lawmakers head to Albany to try to find another billion dollars in cuts, and State University of New York supporters say the "Rock the Vote" campaign is helping to provide needed political clout.

Don Feldstein with United University Professions says enrollments have been cut and faculty searches frozen at many SUNY campuses after the first rounds of cuts, which totaled 148 million dollars. He says a broad coalition of educators, unions, and local businesses is working to head off more reductions, and they have a new and powerful partner in the 16 thousand students who registered to vote in the 2008 election.

"When students walk in to lawmakers, as part of this coalition, it gives our coalition more power, because the students are constituents and they have that clout."

Feldstein says additional higher education cuts would make a bad situation worse, not only for the quality of education, but also for the economies of towns and cities all across the state.

"For every dollar of state support that SUNY receives, six to eight dollars goes back into the community. For some communities, especially upstate, they'd be a lot worse off if it weren't for the SUNY campuses."

Feldstein says more than 25 thousand new SUNY student voters have been registered since 2006.

Governor David Paterson has said this third round of cuts to the state’s 120 billion dollar budget will be both difficult and necessary.

Michael Clifford/Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY