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October 31, 2002 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-31

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6B - The Michigan Daily - Voter's Guide - Thursday, October 31, 2002

The Michigan Daily - Voter's Guide - 1

fter 12 years under Gov. John Engler, Michigan voters will have to choose between two
visions of the direction Michigan s government should take.
Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus favors smaller state government and credits Republican policies
with spurring economic development and job creation during the 1990s. Attorney General
Jennifer Granholm says the state has been on the wrong track - failing to lower health care
costs, protect the environment and the mentally ill and displaying an inability to keep college
tuition down.
The Michigan Daily takes a look at some of the problems the next governor will have to
deal with and what the candidates say they will do to solve them.

general in 1998.
"We have an image of being a rust-
belt state," Granholm lamented dur-
ing a recent interview. That needs to
be changed, she says. "There are few
places considered hip."
Dick Posthumus has been in
state government for almost
20 years. A native of Kent
County's Alto, near Grand Rapids,
he grew up on a farm. A roommate
of Engler's at Michigan State
University, he managed Engler's first
campaign for the state House of
Representatives, then was elected to
the state Senate in 1982. When
Engler was elected governor in 1990,
Posthumus succeeded him as Senate
majority leader.
Elected lieutenant governor on the
1998 ticket with Engler and with the
current governor term-limited,
Posthumus quickly emerged as the
candidate to succeed him. Defeating
a moderate state senator in the
Republican primary, he touts the
successes of the Engler administra-
tion in cutting taxes, enacting wel-
fare reform and lowering crime.
"We've got to continue fighting to
create jobs - the reason I first went
to Lansing in the 1980s," he said.
"And I made sure kids could stay
here and go to school here."
Both candidates complain about
the rate at which tuition has been
increasing at the state's public col-
leges and universities. The
University raised tuition 7.5 percent
this year - and 6.5 percent the year

before - figures several points
above the rate of inflation, and it was
worse at most other institutions.
To deal with rising tuition,
Granholm proposes making the
Michigan Education Trust a more
affordable program for families to
enter. The MET allows families to
purchase tuition for their children's
future college education at rates pro-
portional to current tuition rates.
Granholm says the MET has been
priced out of the reach of most fam-
ilies. She also proposes making the
current $2,500 MEAP Merit Award
scholarships, which are currently
based solely on test scores, more
But she also says the state needs
to hold the universities to lower
tuition rates.
"Just like everyone else has . to
tighten their belts during tough eco-
nomic times, so should the universi-
ties," she said.
Posthumus, for his part, proposes
linking the state's higher education
appropriations to tuition increases
lower than the inflation rate. Any
university revenue received from
tuition increases higher than the
inflation rate would be stripped from
the state appropriations to state col-
Now in effect, the Michigan
Education Savings Plan, developed
by a commission he chaired as lieu-
tenant governor, offers families the
ability to invest money tax free -
much like the Roth IRA retirement
plans - in accounts set aside for
their children's tuition.
"Most working families can only

put away a little at a time," he said,
explaining one benefit the MESP has
over the MET.
During the mid- to late-1990s, revenue
came pouring into state coffers as the
economy boomed and the toughest deci-
sion lawmakers had to make was how to
apportion the surpluses. But with the
economy on the downswing, the question
now is how to fill a hole projected at $1.2
billion over the next two years.
Neither candidate supports raising
taxes. In fact, both want to continue cer-
tain cuts in the income and business taxes
that had been halted because of the short-
fall in the state's rainy day fund.
Granholm has proposed cutting all
state budgets by 5 percent, a plan
Posthumus blasts as irresponsible.
"My opponent has talked about cutting
the budget but has never had to do it," he
said. "In 1991 ... we had a $1.8 billion
dollar deficit and as I sat across the table
from (then-Democratic House Speaker
Lewis) Dodak and Governor Engler, I
said we can get through this budget with-
out raising taxes. And we did."
Posthumus argues that budget cuts can-
not be made across the board, saying
Department of Corrections estimates
show 2,500 prisoners would have to be
released. Rather than deciding on which
programs to cut, Posthumus said the gov-
ernor should first decide which programs
to fund - in other words: Build the bud-
get up from nothing, not cut it piece by
Granholm proposes "cutting the fat in
the state government" - creating a
bureaucracy buster to "cut through the
red tape." She says better economic poli-
cies would over time fix the revenue
Though there was a massive drop
in crime during the economic boom,
but it has since been inching upward.
Posthumus stands by Engler's
record during the years. During the
current governor's tenure, penalties

for crimes have gotten longer and
fewer of those incarcerated have
been paroled. But at the same time,
the prison population bloomed.
Granholm proposes sending more
resources on early childhood devel-
opment, say-
ing better "We can't
institutions message to y
will have a middle
long-term l i iddle4
effect of high school
crime. She to use
also says too
many people -
in the prison Republican guber
could have been treated in drug clin-
ics or via mental health programs.
"We have a mental health system that
is culturally and completely broken,"
she said. "And what (Engler and
Posthumus) have done is take the fund-
ing away and shut down the institutions,
and that people who need treatment end
up going to the prison system."
Posthumus said the state did the
right thing in closing down many of
the mental health clinics and focus-
ing more on family-based and outpa-
tient treatment for those with mental
problems. As for drug laws, he
vowed to take a look at the guide-
lines that state court judges usually
have to follow when issuing sen-
tences and perhaps tinkering with
them so that petty drug users are not
unduly punished.
"I wouldn't be opposed to taking a
very close look at it and make sure
we have fair sentencing," he said.
"But also we can't send the message
to young people in middle school
and high school that it's OK to use
Though environmentalists blast
Posthumus' credentials, he shrugs them
off and focuses on keeping Michigan's
water clean.
If elected governor, he vows to
reduce mercury emissions by 90 per-

send the
young people
school and
that it's okay
Dick Posthumus
natorial nominee

has similar pro-
posals but also
stresses giving
more dollars to
the Purchase of
Rights pro-
gram, which
gives localities
the ability to
purchase from
farmers the


cent by the year 2010 as well as ban-
ning off-shore "slant" oil drilling. He
wants to ban the diversion of
Michigan water to other areas and
reducing the number of invasive

development rights to their farms and
thereby ensure that the farms do not
become sprawling residential areas.
Granholm wants the state to give more
PDR grants to localities.
"Of all property in this state, we are
only temporary possessors," she said.
"We may own the prop-
erty, but at some
point it passes to
someone else."
But Post-
humus said
the difficulties
in preventing
sprawl are
more complex. '1°
"For us to pur- 0
chase PDRs for
much of farmland
is difficult
because we're
such an agricul-
tural state," he
said, comparing,
Michigan to states (
with less agricultural
areas such as
"The way to maintain
farms is to make sure our
farmers are making money,"
he said. "There's no reason not to
have PDRs as a tool, but I think it
has to be done by local com-

Iftmod- - - --------

"Just like everyone else has to tighten their
belts during tough economic times, so
should the universities:'
- Jennifer Granholm
Democratic gubernatorial nominee "My opponent has talked about
cutting the budget but has never
had to do it.'
- Dick Posthumus
Republican gubernatorial nominee

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