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April 05, 2002 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-05

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 5, 2002

FRIDAY Focus

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By Louie Meizlish
Daily Staff Reporter

FILE PHOTO
Five candidates - two Republicans and three Democrats - are seeking the office once held by Austin Blair, Michigan's governor
during the Civil War. His statue is the only statue of a person on the grounds of the Michigan Capitol Building.

The comeback candidate
Seeking a return to the office he narrowly lost in a
1990 reelection battle with then-state Sen. John
Engler, James Blanchard, if elected governor, wants
to "get Michigan working again." Tackling the issue of
the recession and the economic difficulties facing Michi-
gan workers and businesses, his first order of business in
officially announcing his candidacy last month was com-
ing up with his "New Economic Plan."
"This is not just another recession. There are market
and structural changes that really threaten our future,"
Blanchard said.
But before he can implement many of his plans, Blan-
chard said he wants an outside, independent audit of
state government conducted as soon as he takes office.
"I don't trust the numbers we get out of Lansing. They
(the Engler administration) don't tell the truth," he said.
"When they borrow from next year and call it a coup,
that's outrageous," Blanchard added, referring to Engler's
plan to conduct early tax collections to boost K-12 fund-
ing.
Among his plans to boost Michigan's economy are an
elimination of the small business tax, creation of a new
department of "commerce, technology and trade," a man-
ufacturing network to assist small businesses in obtain-
ing capital and workers and the establishment of a trade
office in Toronto.
On making college more affordable: Blanchard
wants to expand the Michigan Education Trust, a pro-
gram he established as governor that allows parents to
begin paying their children's tuitions years before they
enter college and locks in the current year's tuition rate.
"It's run a $100 million surplus and there's 61,000 stu-
dents covered by it right now," he said. "I will dramati-
cally expand it by pricing it more reasonably and
allowing for payroll deduction."
He also wants to establish a "MET-Plus," which would
offer free in-state public college tuition and books to Michi-
gan high school students who maintain a B-average.
On cracking down on polluters: Blanchard wants to
ensure that polluters pay the cost of clean-up.
"Right now the state is borrowing money to finance
clean-up of toxic waste sites in polluted areas," Blanchard
said. "The taxpayers are going to pay for it because often
the responsible parties are bankrupt or have disappeared."
On boosting child care and health care: Blanchard
said he favors giving businesses tax credits to cover the
cost of establishing child care facilities at the workplace.
He also wants to allow small and medium-sized busi-
nesses to buy into the state health care program and thus
reduce the costs of purchasing medication and treatment.
The fighter
David Bonior, arguably the state's leading liberal
and the former number-two Democrat in the U.S.
House of Representatives, wants to shift the focus
of state government after 12 years of his ideological
adversary, Gov. John Engler.
The favorite of organized labor, having received the
endorsements of the Michigan branch of the American
Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organiza-
tions and the United Autoworkers (AFL-CIO), Bonior
said the current administration has been hostile to work-
ing people and he wants change that. Bonior promises
better appointees to head state departments and to serve
on the numerous boards and commissions.
Among his pet projects are instituting a minimum
wage in the state, which would be $8.50 per hour includ-
ing health insurance and $10.50 without health insur-
ance. He also favors increasing the number of credit
unions so "people will have access to capital for their
businesses and homes."
On health insurance: Bonior favors expanding the
MI-Child program, which offers health insurance to
underprivileged persons under the age of 19. "We need
to be more aggressive in enrolling the thousands of chil-
dren not enrolled," he said. "And we need to enroll their
parents."
He also favors offering coverage to those between the
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income tax and single business tax. He also promises to
more aggressively pursue federal dollars to cover the
state's cost.
"We've left billions of dollars on the table in Washing-
ton, D.C.," he said.
Other projects: "I'm going to take on the whole ques-
tion of urban sprawl, which is destroying our agricultural
land and also putting more strains on our natural systems
- water and air," Bonior said. "I'm going to lead the
effort in Michigan for public transportation that will con-
nect Detroit to Ann Arbor."
The fresh face
Tennifer Granholm promises to set a new tone in Lans-
ing. The youngest of the candidates seeking either
party's nomination for governor, Granholm is a relative
newcomer to state politics and makes no bones about it. She
rose to prominence as the only Democrat elected to a
statewide executive office in 1998, when she succeeded
Frank Kelley as attorney general. She is only the second
attorney general Michigan has had since the early 1960s.
Being a fresh face, Granholm's first priority is remi-
niscent of President Bush when he was on the campaign
trail in 2000 - change the tone.
"The current administration believes there is some
kind of game where the Republicans win and the Democ-
rats lose," she said. "They don't see an opportunity of not
necessarily fighting the old battles, but of serving and
going forward."
On her administration: "The first thing I want to do
is set up a cabinet that is diverse ... appointees that are
reflective of all of Michigan and that are excellent; peo-
ple who think outside of the box; people who borrow
best practices from other states, from business and the
academic community; people who are capable of cutting
through the bureaucratic junk that currently exists in
government. One of the first positions (to be established)
is that of a bureaucracy buster - somebody who is
going to go in and cut the basic bureaucracies that have
been impeding services."
On lowering healthcare costs: "Buy prescription
drugs in bulk. Let's leverage our buying power as a state
or team up with other states and do the same thing."
"We could team up with a pharmaceutical company
like Pfizer and exhort them to give cheaper prescription
drugs to a certain segment or strata of our population
that might not be able to afford them,"
On balancing the state budget in tough economic
times: Granholm does not favor postponing scheduled
cuts in the single business or income taxes.
"I think it's important to have a tax environment which
is favorable to attracting business," she said. "There may
be a lot of fine programs in the state of Michigan that
we're spending money on, but maybe we just need to put
a pause on a couple of those and keep our reductions in
the tax going - at least see how that works."
On making college more affordable: "The state can,
in a global fashion, provide incentives and jawbone the
universities to keeping the tuition and costs down to a
reasonable level," Granholm said. "The universities have
to do the same thing state government has to do in eco-
nomically tough times."
The protege
Kfter 20 straight years of experience in state govern-
ment, Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus now wants the top job.
tially getting his start in politics as John Engler's
campaign manager when the now-governor first ran for the
state House in the early 1970s, Posthumus was eventually
elected to the state Senate and was the longest-serving majori-
ty leader in Michigan history. Now, after four years as Engler's
number two, he is seeking the Republican nod for governor.
After shepherding much of Engler's proposals through the
Legislature as a senator, Posthumus wants to continue the tra-
dition of tax cuts and leaner government with a heavy focus
on education. A longtime advocate of advancing literacy, he
makes a bold promise: "Every child that's in kindergarten the
day I take office, January 1, 2003, will be reading at grade
level the day I run for reelection in 2006," he said.
On making college more affordable: Posthumus pro-
poses an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that

would limit tuition increases to 5 percent or the rate of
inflation, whichever is less.
"We have to create incentives to keep tuition down," he
said. "In the last 10 years, inflation has gone up 32 per-
cent. The Legislature has funded higher education 54
percent - 30 percent above the rate of inflation - and
still tuition has gone up 80 percent!"
As lieutenantgovernor, he worked to develop the
Michigan Education Savings Program, which allows par-
ents to invest money in tax-free 401k-like accounts in
order to cover the future costs of tuition.
On improving early education: A better education
system, Posthumus said, "means directing resources to
early childhood development because the brain is like a
sponge and information is like water."
On protecting the environment: Most private sector
pollution problems have already been taken care of in
Michigan, Posthumus said. The main problem now, he
said, is in the public sector. For example, the state must
help smaller communities deal with sewer problems,
Posthumus said. "Small communities don't have enough
resources to pay for that by themselves. We will have a
policy for rebuilding our sewer infrastructure."
On balancing the state budget: "To create more tax
revenue you need to reduce taxes so that it will attract
capital and attract jobs," he said. "The way (the reces-
sion) will turn around is by attracting jobs to Michigan."
The moderate
tate Sen. John Schwarz, a moderate Republican
challenging Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus for the GOP
nomination, bills himself as the realist in the race
for governor. He has no grandiose ambitions for the first
year of his term in office.
"A candidate can come in with a lot of pie-in-the-sky
things he or she wants to do. And then they walk in the
door and there sits reality," he said. "The great vision is
probably not something that is going to be a big impor-
tant part of somebody's administration on Jan. 3. The
big, important problems will be there." After funding
education, his next priority is rebuilding Medicaid, a $5
billion proposition.
Schwarz, like Democratic candidate James Blanchard,
has extensive experience serving his country overseas. Prior
to returning to Battle Creek to practice medicine, he served
in the Navy in Vietnam and Indonesia and later worked for
the Central Intelligence Agency in various parts of South-
east Asia. Schwarz thinks the Republican Party has moved
too far to the right and wants to nudge the GOP back to the
center.
On budget priorities: "(Currently,) 40 percent of the
budget is education. You take care of the universities.
You take care of the community colleges. You take care
of the K-12 schools," he said.
Schwarz also favors postponing the scheduled reduc-
tions in the state income tax and single business tax.
On campaign finance reform: Schwarz, who chaired
U.S: Sen. John McCain's successful 2000 Republican
presidential primary campaign in Michigan, has, like
McCain, made campaign finance reform one of his sig-
nature issues.
Schwarz said he is not as concerned with limits on
hard money, but the need for full disclosure for individ-
ual and political action committee donations to candi-
dates and for individual and corporate donations to
political action committees.
"(Under his proposal) a check has got to be written
by an individual to an organization - either a candi-
date organization or a PAC in some instances - but
the source of the money, the individual, has got to be
disclosed immediately, and the check has to be cashed
immediately," he said. "If we had full disclosure, peo-
ple would know where the money is coming and what
it is that is motivating some of these organizations to
produce some of these ads."
On expanding health insurance: "The most worri-
some group is the working-class group, where neither
they can afford nor can their employer afford to have
insurance for them," he said. Schwarz favors an expan-
sion of the MI-Child program, which offers free health
insurance to under-19 youth between 150 and 200 per-
cent of the poverty level.

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