OUR VIEW: Michigan’s legislators face fall challenges

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:06 am on Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our state Legislature is back in session, apparently having spent this summer in the hustings garnering the wishes and concerns of the ordinary folks.

So we now look forward to seeing what they will accomplish either in the name of the public good, or perhaps in deference to the myriad special interest groups dispensing financial favors. Individual political career futures will also factor in. Then there’s the tea party and their arch enemies, the we-want-it-now, pass-the-cost-on-to-future-generations group. Will the intransigence of both sides continue to stifle collaboration and mutual concessions in the name of public service? We’d like to see a more middle-of-the-road path, but we’d most of all like to see some constructive return on our considerable investment in this legislative body.

That isn’t going to happen until more politicians grow some backbone and eschew their me-first stance in controversial issues. The above-mentioned rival factions threaten to introduce expensive primary election challenges to legislative incumbents unless they vote “the right way.” Hence Michigan stalemating relative to medical care, education and roads are driven as much by fear as by genuine political preferences.

Our state’s future depends on better legislative leadership. Michigan’s participation in the Obamacare-related Medicaid program, in which our Republican governor actually prevailed, allows hundreds of thousands of Michigan citizen’s health assistance they could not otherwise afford. We mention his political affiliation, because his fellow party members would not also agree to immediate-effect on the legislation. That purely partisan stalemate could ultimately cost Michigan taxpayers upwards of 40 million dollars in federal funding. We all know there’ll be on-going challenges to Obamacare, and the need for adjustments for any such program is a no-brainer; but why not get for Michigan what we can since we’ve already signed on?

Realities of the 21st century have chased many 20th century fiscal practices into oblivion. In Michigan, private and public sector institutions usually followed the automotive industry in pushing up wages and benefits for all involved. Subsequently, worldwide competition forced the automotive industry into dramatic change, and those same forces have pushed traditional public schooling into competition with new forms of schooling. What could possibly be more important to our country’s children than an education that offers the chance to compete in a global society?

Common sense tells us that adopting policies that assure our children an education matching the modern standards of global education is a good idea. But fear of reprisal from party leadership is once again stopping our legislators from standing up for the cause. While polling shows that Michigan citizens and educational institutions overwhelmingly favor adoption of the Common Core curriculum, the neanderthals have once again frightened our pols.

We don’t like the stalling in our state Legislature relative to Common Core. Michigan schools have been actively involved with this widely acclaimed program and have spent lots of dollars preparing to incorporate these forward-looking standards. The ongoing academic challenge from schools and their students from the world’s more progressive countries are being too easily (and unwisely) ignored. If that means a few legislators must be willing to stand up and lead. Let’s see it happen.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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