Pence needs to be bolder, move faster
Mike Pence worked in a shark tank for 12 years on Capitol Hill, where the incautious were eaten alive by partisan opponents, cable TV talk shows and special interest groups. As the House Republican spokesman for several of those years, Pence learned to measure his words even more, knowing that he represented not just himself but also his entire caucus during frequent TV and radio appearances.
But those lessons are not serving Indiana’s new governor well now. Caution isn’t the right tact for the chief executive of a state that needs bold leadership and the impatience, born of necessity, to drive major change with a sense of urgency.
To be successful in his new role, Pence must break out of the cautionary stance that he’s taken for the first three months of his term and begin to assert himself more boldly, passionately and when needed forcefully.
During a meeting with The Star Editorial Board on Thursday, the governor ticked off several of his team’s legislative accomplishments and near accomplishments thus far in a General Assembly session that ends later this month. And while some of the ideas are indeed promising — such as a renewed emphasis on vocational training in high schools and creation of research centers linked to Indiana’s strong set of universities — the overall package isn’t ambitious enough for a state with the economic and education challenges we face.
Indiana, after all, is 40th in the education level of its workforce. The average Hoosier worker earns 86 cents for every dollar paid to typical American. Our health statistics — smoking, obesity, heart disease, diabetes — are among the worst in the nation. Our air and water quality continually ranks near the bottom. In short, we can’t afford as a state to go slow — or be cautious — without running serious risk of falling even further behind, to the point where recovery might not be possible for generations.