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January 06, 1995 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-06

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 6. 1995 - 3

Special Report:

Changes abound with GOP in


'Contract' legislation focuses
debate on role of government

Daily News Editor
Across the nation, from school boards to the
statehouses, city councils to Congress, mad-as-
hell voters thundered an angry message in No-
vember, kicking out the Democrats en masse and de-

manding a smaller and less
As the new year dawned, the
successful politicians took of-
fice reiterating the campaign
pledges that helped get them
elected. Disgruntled ones looked
back on a year that ended with-
out action on many issues they
deemed critical to the nation's
future: health care, welfare re-
form, lobbying reform, environ-
mental laws and mining regula-
Now that the Republicans in
Congress are officially in the
majority and pushing through
the steady stream of legislation
in the so-called Contract with
America, a profound debate has
begun across kitchen tables,
boardrooms and in Washing-
ton: What is to be the role of
In the GOP's first test of
reforming Congress, several
antiquated committees survived
the budget ax, serving as an apt
precursor to the difficult cuts
"It is much easier to plan to

intrusive government.
cut programs, to say you are
going to do so," said Demo-
cratic Rep. Barney Frank of
Massachusetts. "It is another
thing to look your constituents
in the eye and tell them you are
cutting their Medicare payments
or their farm subsidies or their
veterans' benefits."
Indeed, Republicans ac-
knowledge the difficulties en-
"It is not going to be easy.
And we may not succeed. But
we have to go about the busi-
ness of governing as best we
can, to stand up to the special
interests and do the people's
work," said Senate Majority
Leader Bob Dole.
"Everything is on the table
in the budget and, frankly, in
the government. What we need
to do know is work to find com-
mon ground to get this govern-
ment in order for our children,"
House Speaker Newt Gingrich
said in his opening-day speech.
But President Clinton and

his advisers have been attack-
ing the contract, charging that
the Republicans have not ex-
plained how they intend to pay
for tax cuts or a balanced bud-
"The proof is in the pud-
ding," said White House Chief
of Staff Leon Panetta."We have
many of the same goals. We just
don't know how they are going
to be paid for."
But the speaker leading the
populist conservative "revolu-
tion" is in a much better posi-
tion to shape the nation's future
and its government, analysts say,
than Clinton.
"Newt Gingrich, right now,
has two things that President
Clinton doesn't ... a mandate
and an agenda," said William
Schneider, a political analyst
with the American Enterprise
"He now controls the agenda
in American politics and the
proof is that the press is already
treating him as the new presi-
What results from the 104th
Congress and from this latest
crop of reform-minded politi-
cians may have a profound im-
pact on the nation - from health
care to student loans - extend-
ing into the next century.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich swears in new members of the 104th Congress Wednesday in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill.

Student loans could suffer GOP cuts

Daily Staff Reporter
As the Republican Congress
prepares to trim the size of the fed-
eral budget, University students
could face a loss of $3.9 to $4.3
million in funds each year.
"I think the one item that is
talked about is the in-school inter-
est subsidy on student loans," said
Associate Vice President for Gov-
ernment Relations Thomas Butts,
who oversees the University's
Washington office. "That could take
$3.9 million up to $4.3 million

when it's phased in, per year, from
University of Michigan students."
Through this need-based pro-
gram, the federal government pays
the interest on loans while students
are in school.
At this point, University offi-
cials are keeping a close eye on the
process to avert any loss in fund-
"I guessthe process we'll watch
most closely is the budget process
over the next couple of weeks,"
Butts said. "It is there that the
parameters will be set for reduc-

ing any programs that affect re-
search and students."
Butts said this investment in
education through student assis-
tance programs is one of the
University's concerns in Washing-
"That's not a partisan concept.
Republicans and Democrats alike
believe in those principles. How
they go about it differs," Butts said.
In an interview following the
Republican victory in November,
University President James J.
Duderstadt also expressed con-

cerns about the vote's impact on
the University.
"They're talking about no longer
covering the interest of student
loans," Duderstadt said. "Unfortu-
nately, the new Congress is not one
of the state of Michigan will have
much influence on. That means
Michigan will not compete as ef-
fectively for resources."
Vice President for University
Relations Walter Harrison said, "I
think it's pretty clear the Republi-
can 'Contract with America' will
mean it's going to be unlikely we'll

see a lot of new money available
for us."
But the University will not sit
quietly if Congress proposes to cut
funds to higher education.
"There are always budget
cuts and increases. The most
important thing to do is to make
people aware of the effect vari-
ous proposals will have on the
University," Butts said.
For the most part, Butts said
support for higher education has
been bipartisan.
"We've seen an increased de-
pendence on student loans over
grants and I expect that trend to
continue if not accelerate in the
new Congress," Butts said.

State senator to work for more jobs,

Daily Staff Reporter
As Alma Wheeler Smith prepared to
announce her candidacy for the state Senate
last April, her father died. In the midst of the
ensuing pain and confusion, Smith went
ahead with her plans.
Smith said her father, Albert Wheeler
- former Ann Arbor mayor, civil rights
activist and University professor - and her
mother, also a civil rights activist, taught
her "that one person working with others
can make a difference in the quality of life."
The 53-year-old Democratic senator
hopes to bring this lesson to the Michigan
Legislature when it convenes Wednesday.
Elected from Michigan's 18th state Senate
district, which covers Washtenaw County,
Smith replaces state Sen. Lana Pollack of
Ann Arbor, who retired this year to make an
unsuccessful bid for the Democratic U.S.
Senate nomination. Pollack lost to Bob Carr.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily
last month, Smith, a Salem Township resi-
dent, said she plans to work on education
and environmental legislation first. She has
already submitted legislation that would
raise the compulsory school attendance age
for children from 16 to 18 (or graduation),
to "assure that students stay in school," she
After November's election, Pollack pre-
dicted that Smith would make an immedi-
ate impact in Lansing. "She is totally pre-
pared for this job, and she is a very capable
person," Pollack said.
"Her biggest strength will be the fact
that she has the courage of her convictions.
She's strong as steel and won't be blown
over by all of the distractions and tempta-
tions of the Lansing special interests," Pol-
lack added.
* . 1 a r, a , . - -

"It's getting to a point where students
are hocking away their lives," Smith added.
Smith said she plans to work "on getting
added funding to the University so we can
hold tuition down." This goal led Smith to
apply for and receive a seat on the Senate
Appropriations Committee, which handles
public university financing among other
budgetary issues.
She said she plans to help the University
contain maintenance, repair and infrastruc-
ture expenditures. "My gut feeling ... is
that the University administration is very
large and that's not my place to judge the
administration, but my sense is that there is
cost containment possibilities within the
administration," Smith said.
University spokeswoman Lisa Baker
said she hopes to familiarize Smith with the
University's budget. "One of the things
we'd like to do," Baker said, "is sit down
and talk with her ... to go over the structure
of our budget."
Baker said that the University is cur-
rently working to contain administrative
Furthermore, Baker said that Smith's
appointment to the Appropriations Com-
mittee may lead to more public funds for
the University, which should in turn help
contain tuition costs. "We hope that Sen.
Smith can work with us to increase our
appropriations and that of course will help
us hold tuition," Baker said.
A mother of three, Smith graduated from
the University in 1963 with a B.A. in jour-
nalism. She took graduate classes in busi-
ness administration, but did not complete a
Smith's campaign manager, University
alum Jeff Gourdji, spoke warmly about her.
"She is a genuinely nice person," he said.
. - - -

U' funding
their legislation is introduced," by discuss-
ing amendments to help the majority party
understand her constituency's point of view.
"One of my functions as a person in the
minority party is to articulate concerns on
the other side of the legislation," Smith
Another of Smith's concerns is creating
middle-class jobs. Although the economy
is healthy, she said "we're not creating jobs
for the middle class."
"The prospect for kids is not as bright as
it has been in past years when the auto
industry was strong and there was a lot of
opportunity," she said.
Smith said there are no easy solutions.
"I don't have a crystal ball on what we
need," she said.
Smith won the Democratic Primary last
August against Ken Schwartz of Superior
Township, with 76 percent of the vote.
She faced Ypsilanti businessman Joe
Mikulec in the general election. "It was a
long campaign and toward the end of the
campaign we started getting some negative
hits from my opponent," Smith said. She
won with 57 percent of the vote.
LSA junior Brooke Holley, who volun-
teered for Smith's campaign during the
general election, said the negative attacks
inspired Smith rather than hurt her.
"From what I saw, (the attacks) inspired
her more to reach out to sort of talk to
people more and (project) her messages
across rather than to slander her opponent."
Looking to the future, will Mrs. Smith
go to Washington?
"I am not interested in Washington D.C.;
in going to Congress," she said without
hesitation. "At this time I'm happy to rep-
resent the county of Washtenaw as a state
' .% A.4A - 1- . . ..t

Bill to protect sex
crimne survivors
to return in 1995
Daily Staff Reporter
LANSING - A bill guaranteeing counseling and
other services to victims of sexual assault was one of
hundreds that died at the end of the state's last legisla-
tive session.
A proposal to force state-supported schools, like
the University, to disclose more details about their
spending habits was also among those not finished
when the 87th Legislature completed business after
The 88th Legislature opens its session next week.
Rep. Maiy Schroer (D-Ann Arbor), who was one of
the sponsors of the three-bill package, said it would be
coming back.
"I think it's a real disappointment that the Senate
didn't take it up," she said, adding she had not heard of
any major opposition to the proposal.
"All it really does is have institutional support for
these people," Schroer said. "It sets a tone as something
to be listened to and people who are sexually assaulted
need assistance and the university should provide it.'
The proposal - which follows a 1991 federal
statute - specifies survivors' rights like full investiga-
tion by local authorities if necessary, on-campus counsel-
ing, and alternate housing or other arrangements to limit
contact with the perpetrator.
At the University, the Sexual Assault Prevention and
Awareness Center already provides many of these ser-
Joyce Wright, SAPAC's education coordinator, said
the proposal would not really affect the office but enforce
its efforts.
"Where I see it helping is where those campuses have
very little support or no agency (for dealing with sexual
assault)," she said. "It supports what we're already do-
Wright added that anything helping people take sexual
assault more seriously is "what we're striving for."
"People need to change attitudes," she said.
Andrew Wright, who assisted in MSA's lobbying
effort as the external relations chair, said the campus
would not see much change, but the bill would still be a
positive step. "I think it's more of a policy thing than a
serious action," he said. "Legally, the implications are
not going to change."
After the bill passed the House it got stuck in the
Senate Education Committee, where it was never taken
up because the committee was dealing with various
charter school proposals and changing committee chairs,
said aides in Sen. Glenn Steil's office.
Steil took over the committee after Sen. Michael
Bouchard (R-Birmingham) took an assignment with the
appropriations committee.
The budget disclosure bill was introduced by former
state Sen. Jack Welborn (R-Kalamazoo) in September. It
would have required state-supported colleges and uni-
versities to orovide detailed budgets. Currently schools

Wheeler Smith
But she has experience working with
different ideologies. Before her recent two-
year term on the Democratic-controlled
Washtenaw County Commission, Smith
served on the non-partisan South Lyon
Board of Education, which had strong Re-
publican leanings.
From this experience, she learned how
to work with Republicans. "I did learn
consensus building skills. It was a lot of
hard work trying to bring people around to
see my concerns," Smith said.
Gourdji said Smith's open-mindedness
helps her work with others. "One of Alma's


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