The Michigan Daily - Monday, August 5, 2002,- 3
Making a statement Two lawyers seek 52nd District
Democratic spot for state rep.
Londell Thomas of the Michigan Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence speaks to
Million Mom March members outside of U.S. Rep. John Dingell's headquarters
in Ypsilanti on Saturday.
Engler's veto an ers
party, local officials
By Jeremy Berkowitz
Daily News Editor
Democrats Pam Byrnes and David Nacht,
both attorneys and University alums, agree on
several issues, giving voters a difficult deci-
sion in tomorrow's 52nd District state House
Either Byrnes, the Washtenaw County road
commissioner, or Nacht will face the winner
of the GOP primary between Rep. Gene
DeRossett and Manchester farmer and engi-
neer Ingrid Depp.
It is believed the seat could end up in either
party's hands after the general election, mak-
ing the primary important in determining the
With northern Ann Arbor - including
North Campus - in the newly-drawn dis-
trict, both Democratic candidates say educa-
tion is a top priority in their campaigns.
They would both like to see money diverted
from other areas, including corporate wel-
fare, into higher education in order to avoid
future hikes like the 7.9 percent tuition
increase the University Board of Regents
approved last month.
"There are things that are helping corpora-
tions where they really don't need it," Byrnes
said, adding that more oversight is needed to see
if companies efficiently spend money appropri-
ated to them by the state.
Nacht said he could be counted on "to fight
within the Legislature for money for this institu-
tion," by diverting money that already goes to
Both candidates are equally concerned the
district will soon resemble western Wayne
County, saying suburban sprawl threatens the
character of the region.
Nacht advocates communities working
together and setting regional zoning plans, as
opposed to the current system, in which local
governments can only zone within their borders.
This would allow for better land preservation as
well as tougher enforcement of environment
"I've already been
working with people in
- Pam Byrnes
Washtenaw County Road Commissioner
laws, he said.
"If the towns work together, we can create
places that will have lots of open space and
areas where we'll have more dense (space),"
Byrnes said Washtenaw farmers are con-
tinuously under pressure to sell their land to
developers. She said the state should provide
more incentives in terms of development
rights - money that makes up the differ-
ence if farmers do not sell their land - so
the state's agricultural economy remains
Both candidates support the recent 50-cent
cigarette tax hike, although they remain con-
cerned that it will eventually hurt lower-
income people more.
But they differ on other tax issues, such as
the Single Business Tax. Nacht, who
describes himself as a "social liberal and fis-
cal moderate," said the state erred in post-
poning this year's scheduled .1 percent
reductions in the tax.
Since it is based on total assets, not profits,
it should be phased out as quickly as possible,
he said. Byrnes said she favors postponing
cuts as result of the budget deficit currently
facing the state.
"We do have limited resources now and to cut
any of the resources ... would be foolish," she.
Nacht said he differs from his opponent inso-
far as his campaign is more grassroots-based.
But Byrnes said that she's "already been
working with people in the township. I've
already established a relationship"
By Andrew McCormack
Daily Staff Reporter
Gov. John Engler recently vetoed
all non-constitutionally mandated
revenue sharing to Michigan's coun-
ties, cities, villages and townships.
This includes a significant part of
Ann Arbor's city budget.
"The governor saw that there were
three proposals that would cost the state
one billion dollars per year," said Matt
Resch, Engler's deputy press secretary.
Engler noted the need for a balanced
budget when he signed the veto.
"Michigan cannot afford all of this
spending and the passage of these bal-
lot proposals, if adopted."
The three proposed amendments to
the state's constitution include a reallo-
cation of the state's tobacco settlement
money to pay for heath care and anti-
smoking efforts, mandating treatment
rather than jail time for convicted drug
users and the right of binding arbitra-
tion for all state employees.
"(Engler) thinks they're all bad
ideas," Resch said. "We hope that
these proposals will fail."
The revenue sharing vetoes will "take
away 5 percent of our budget, which is a
lot," Ann Arbor City Council member
Marcia Higgins (R-Ward 4) said. "It will
have a negative impact on us."
She added that such a slashing of
funds would mean big cuts in the city's
budget. "It could be anywhere from
cutting services to laying off employ-
ees if this veto passes."
But David Zin, an economist with
the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency
,said the actual cost of the three ballot
proposals is difficult to determine
because of much unresolved language
in the proposals themselves, such as
the lack of a date for when they will go
into effect. Zin added that it was even
possible for some of the amendments
not to activate until 2003, in which
case they would not affect the next fis-
cal year at all.
Janine Winters, director of the
Office of the State Employer, said
that binding arbitration-the right
for labor unions to appeal to a final,
third-party arbiter for judgment
when settling labor disputes-could
cost the state around $500 million
because of retroactive wages and
interest build-ups during the ardu-
ous process, which often lasts sev-
It is the possibility of the arbitra-
tion proposal passing-and the
resulting cost-that caused the gov-
ernor the most worry among the
three proposals, Resch said. Bind-
ing arbitration accounts for the
largest figure in the state's billion-
dollar problem and is a right
already held by Michigan State
Police troopers. Winters added that
it has only been used twice since it
started in 1978.
The fiscal agency .does not have a
figure on how much binding arbitra-
tion will cost, Zin said.
"Cities, villages and townships
levied (a total of) 2.4 billion in 2002,
1.2 billion of which was from revenue
sharing," Zin said.
Engler's veto has stirred resent-
ment all over the state, and legisla-
tive GOP plans to support democrats
in overriding the veto. According to
accounts in the Detroit Free Press,
opponents of the cuts have enough
votes to override Engler's line-item
veto of the revenue sharing funds
when the Legislature reconvenes
"I understand the governor's
wanting to call attention to these
proposals, but you don't have to
hold revenue sharing hostage to do
it," Higgins said, sharing the view
of many local officials around the
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