News Release: Michigan Catholic Conference Releases Vote No on Proposal 4 Message to Parishes and Schools

October 14, 2002

LANSING—The Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) announced today that its October issue of FOCUS has been distributed to the 1150 Catholic parishes and schools throughout the state with a message that Proposal 4 is “Unhealthy for Michigan.” FOCUS is the topical publication on public policy matters of concern to the MCC.

“Passage of Proposal 4 would cause a dramatic shift in the public policy and constitutional practice of our state,” said Paul A. Long, Vice President for Public Policy with the MCC. “As a result, it is necessary to inform Catholic voters about this proposal.”

Proposal 4 would constitutionally mandate that ninety percent of the $300 million annual tobacco settlement be diverted from the purposes established by the Michigan Legislature and automatically be given each year to hospitals, nursing homes, two private-non-profit corporations and an array of other health related programs. Currently the annual settlement is appropriated toward the Michigan Merit Award Scholarship, the Life Sciences Corridor, the Elder-Prescription Drug Assistance program and other budgetary needs.

“It is bad public policy for specific appropriations to be placed in the state constitution,” said Long. “The legislature is the proper place for these decisions to be debated and determined. Proposal 4 would turn Michigan’s budget process upside down.”

“In addition, students across Michigan have been promised that if they excel academically they will be rewarded with the Michigan Merit Award Scholarship. The passage of Proposal 4 would end this highly successful program. It would be unfortunate to take this away from the tens of thousands of students who are relying on this scholarship as a means of attending vocational or technical school or a 2 or 4 year college or university,” Long concluded.

The MCC Board of Directors voted in June to oppose the ballot measure.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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