News and Tribune

Clark County

August 25, 2010

Meeting with Mitch: Governor Daniels talks state finances and federal deficits

NEW ALBANY — When Gov. Mitch Daniels took office he met with his administration and set a daily goal to look at ways to raise the net disposable income for Hoosiers then leave as many dollars in people’s pockets as possible.

What Daniels and his administration didn’t expect, was for the country to be mired in a recession that would strain the state’s finances and force major budget cuts.

But while the country has waded through its fiscal crisis, his handling of the state’s budget has raised Daniels’ name as a potential Republican candidate for president in 2012. Daniels, though, said he was not positioning himself to run for the office.

“The only reason I would even think about it is because I am really, desperately alarmed about the condition of the country,” he said, acknowledging that Indiana’s financial state is probably the source of him being considered in the national arena.

On Tuesday the governor sat down with the editorial boards of The Evening News and The Tribune to discuss the status of the state and how he is addressing a stagnant national economy.

Daniels has lauded the fact that he has made cuts to the state’s budget, maintaining its position in the black, without raising taxes.

“Our whole view is to find a way to get through this thing without doing that,” he said in reference to raising state taxes. “Number one, it’s no time to be pinching the budgets of families, many of whom are having trouble making ends meet now. Number two, I want us to be more competitive for jobs than anybody else. Every time one of these other states raises a tax and we don’t it improves our chances of getting the next investment.”

Two reports that have been released covering January through July have ranked Indiana number one amongst states in terms of private sector job growth.

“We’ve added 56,000 jobs this year, which is 2.4 percent,” Daniels said. “That’s four times the national average which is 0.6 [percent]. We are 2 percent of the American population, but we are 9 percent of all the new private sector jobs this year.”

He added that the growth was not enough and the state is looking to position itself to capitalize on an economic recovery.

“One thing a state could do about a recession is try to handle itself in a way that was a little better than other states and therefore improve its competitive position,” he said. “So, that when the economy did start to grow again we might hope to benefit a little more or a little faster.”

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