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June 18, 2001 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-06-18

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4 -- The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 18, 2001
Edited and managed by JACQUELYN NiXON AUBREY HENRETTY
Students at the Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan Jt n eEta gE I
Stee Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the
420 Maynard Street1 majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily

If you are a state senator or representa-
tive and would like a pay raise, you
can get one by doing absolutely noth-
ing. That is, you have to show up for
work, do your legislative branch thing
and not et kicked out of the Senate; if
you ful fll these minor obligations, a
raise will creep its way into your pay-
check without any extra effort on your
part.
For instance, let's say the State Offi-
cers Compensation Commission -
which recommends raises for elected
state officials - suggests a pay increase
of 38 percent. If you find it too high, too
low or you just don't want it, you can
vote against it. Under the present sys-
tem, 2/3 of both houses of the Legisla-
ture must reject the pay raise in order for
it not to take effect.
Earlier this year, Senate Majority
Leader Dan DeGrow (R-Port Huron)
refused to bring a bill to reject the pro-
posed pay raises to a vote, rendering
rejection of it impossible. This allowed
House members to emptily vote against
it, knowing that they would get the raise
anyway while still appearing as though

Rarse Craze
Legislators entitled to cost-of-living raises

they didn't want it,
A few weeks later, the Senate passed
a proposal to reform this system. The
largest change this proposal included
was requiring both houses of the Legis-
lature to vote in favor of a pay raise in
order to get it, Now legislators who are
campaigning for re-election will no
longer be able to claim that they were
one of the unselfish souls who voted
against their own pay raise while fully
knowing that the raise would go through
anyway.
Also, counting votes by those in favor
puts more control in the hands of the
legislators who could make the best
decision concerning what is necessary
for them. A suggested pay raise by the
SOCC for the governor, lieutenant gov-
ernor, Supreme Court justices and state
legislators can be lowered; previously it

was a matter of considering only what
was suggested and accepting it be as
long as there wasn't a 2/3 majority in
opposition.
Moreover, this proposal requires the
Legislature to vote on any pay increase
recommended by the SOCC before it can
take effect.
This gives more power to the Legisla-
ture to decide whether or not its pocket-
books take precedence over other
budgetary items, but we must not be too
quick to condemn senators for affording
themselves a little extra cash; we must
also consider cost-of-living increases.
The rate of inflation and increasing liv-
ing standards affect pay rates and costs
all over; senators should not be excluded
and have to vote on an adjustment that is
made automatically all over the country.
The House proposed an amendment

to the reform bill that would allow for
reasonable raises comparable to the rate
of inflation without all the politicking.
But on Tuesday, the Senate rejected
the House amendment to vote only whe
a proposed raise exceeds the averag~
increase allocated for state civil service
workers. They also withdrew an amend-
ment to vote on anything greater than the
annual rate of inflation.
Obviously, they feel that their jobs are
different than state civil service workers
and that the raises could become an
unnecessary part of the budget. But per-
haps by allowing a standard adjustment,
less attention, time and effort will be
needed for making the pay raise decision
and the payment will correctly refle
any economic change. Overall, the Le,
islature's goal of adjusting how the
money for their paychecks is allocated is
well sought and will hopefully take
effect soon. While legislators should not
be denied pay increases comparable to
those given to other civil servants, they
should also not be able to recklessly give
themselves raises without being held
accountable.

Pub ic schoo . powyer
Congress correct to reject school voucher plan
W hat does public education mean contend that a mass Exodus of students
to you? For some, it's a source would be good for public schools
of pride: Small communities because it would leave them no choice
coming together to form Parent Teacher but to improve or lose the rest of their
Associations, kickball games, screechy pupils. This argument is flawed; imple-
fifth-grade violin concerts and field menting a voucher system would make
days. Sure, their social studies textbooks it nearly impossible for ailing public
might say Hawaii and Alaska will make schools to get much-needed state dol-
fine states some day. But hey, they turn lars.
out alright. For others, public school is The reasoning goes something like
no place to grow up: Underpaid teachers this: The amount of money afforded to a
with few resources, textbooks a rarity, given school district is based largely on
broken tiles in the halls and no toilet the size of its student population. The
paper to go with the toilets. The sounds more students in a district, the more
of violence - not violins - fill their money that district gets from the state.
ears. In order to attract students, a district
What's to be done about this dispari- must have an impressive array of dedi-
ty? Some give up on public schools alto- cated teachers, state-of-the-art technolo-
gether, whisking away their kids in gy and curricula rigorous enough to
Sport Utility Vehicles to the local pri- prepare students for college. To hire col-
vate or Parochial schools. Not me, they 1ege prep-quality teachers and buy fancy
say. Not my children. Not my problem. computers takes money, which the poor-
Thankfully, the United States Con- est schools wouldn't get because they
gress has opted for a more hands-on wouldn't have any students; the students
approach. they did have would take their vouchers
The U.S. Senate voted 58to41 Tues- and flee to better schools.
day to reject an amendment to President Ultimately, a voucher system would
Bush's education bill calling for federal- force penniless public schools to shut
ly funded school vouchers for children down while channeling more and more
in poorly performing school districts; money into wealthy private schools. Stu-
the House also rejected this amendment dents not lucky enough to be selected to
last month. Despite the noble intentions receive vouchers would be in quite a
of this bill's supporters, Congress made bind when their already bad schools got
the right decision. In the words of Sena- worse and were eventually forced to
tor Hillary Clinton (D-New York), the close down. Private schools would over-
idea of federally funded school vouchers crowd, their preciously low student-to-
"sounds so good but it has a number of teacher ratio skyrocketing , the
serious flaws that doom it." resources depleting and the quality of
At first glance, it does seem like a education steadily declining until they
great idea: Give disadvantaged children were no better than the poor schools
a chance to escape the horrors of their their students were trying to escape in
substandard public schools, a chance to the first place.
go to college. Make the federal govern- Congress' rejection of this amend-
ment pick up the tab. ment is encouraging; hopefully, it is also
Unfortunately, it's just not that sim- indicative of a genuine desire to find
ple. real, long-term solutions to all that
Proponents of the voucher system plagues our public schools.

Just saMy yes
Legalizing marijuana would benefit many
Just one month ago, the U.S. Supreme sense that these proven-harmful sub-
Court ruled unanimously to ax yet stances remain legal and widely adver-
another proposal to legalize medici- tised while marijuana is illegal and
nal marijuana, with Justice Clarence condemned.
Thomas boldly stating that the plant has Secondly, contrary to the opinion of
no valid medicinal uses; at the American Justice Thomas, evidence suggests tht
Medical Association's annual policy-set- marijuana does have valid medicinaT*
ting meeting in Chicago last week, the applications. It has enabled many cancer
AMA was urged by one of its own com- patients ravaged by chemotherapy and
mittees to support the "compassionate AIDS patients on numerous nauseating
use" of the drug. Hopefully, the AMA medications to eat again, preventing
will adopt this proposal, thus lending their weakened bodies from consuming
some credibility to the many patients themselves. It has been used to ease the
who've found it helpful. Lawmakers in pains of quadriplegia, to soothe the
Canada are well on their way to decrimi- seizures of epilepsy and the pain of mul-
nalizing the wacky weed. Terminally ill tiple sclerosis. People unfortunate
patients all over the country are able to enough to be stricken with terminal disc
live more comfortably by smoking a.bit eases should not also be denied their
of illegal pot. Public support is growing sole relief or sent to jail for trying to
faster than cinnabis in a closet. It's time lessen this pain through marijuana use.
for the U.S. government to get off its This brings us to the next contentions
high - or rather, decidedly not high - in the case for legalization: Possession
horse and legalize marijuana. arrests and prison overcrowding. About
So far, all the federal government has 85 percent of marijuana-related arrests
done is spout rhetoric about marijuana: are possession arrests. Every day, law
Their propaganda tells us that it is dan- enforcement officials waste their time
gerous, often laced with deadly sub- and our tax dollars by arresting people
stances and leads inevitably to hard drug merely for possessing the drug. Addi-
use. They ignore the facts that legaliza- tionally, U.S. prisons are just teemin
tion and minimal regulations would with marijuana offenders, people wh
nearly destroy the possibility of acciden- have never done anything to harm any-
tally purchasing spiked marijuana and one else. If marijuana was decriminal-
that just because many hard-drug users ized and these "offenders" set free, there
also use or once used marijuana doesn't would be more space in our prisons for
mean that most marijuana users move dangerous, violent criminals (e.g.
on to harder drugs. In fact, most of them rapists, child molesters, murderers, etc.)
don't. who pose an actual threat to society.
First, marijuana appears to be less The public may never know why the
harmful than some other legal drugs. federal government is so insistent about
Unlike the nicotine found in cigarettes, keeping pot illegal, why it insists upoi
THC, the active chemical in marijuana, wasting its scarce prison space on crea
has never been proven to be physically tures as harmless as marijuana smokers
addictive. While the alcohol found in or why it refuses to acknowledge the
beer, wine and other such beverages has plant's potential benefits. At least not
caused many deaths-by-overdose, there until some prominent lawmaker iinds
have been no documented cases of fatal him or herself afflicted with a terminal
marijuana overdoses. It makes little disease.

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