Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) boasted during his state of the state address Jan. 19 that Indiana had weathered the recession better than almost every other state, although he still called on lawmakers to make cuts in spending without raising taxes.
He pointed to fiscal troubles in states from California to South Carolina, but denied any hint of "schadenfreude" that he referred to as only "that long German word I always mispronounce, that means 'enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.'"
He also did not gloss over the hardships in neighboring Illinois and Michigan, where, because of transportation cuts, "they are grinding asphalt roads back into gravel, as though to regress by a century," he said.
By contrast, Daniels, who was re-elected in 2008, praised his administration's handling of the recession and reductions in state spending that he has presided over since 2004. Indiana now has the fewest number of state employees since 1982, as well as fewer airplanes and vehicles owned by the state, he said.
Still, he urged caution on lawmakers, pointing to two neighboring states that are governed by Democrats. "We could be Michigan in a minute of meekness, Illinois in an instant of irresolution," he said.
Daniels also called on lawmakers to combine the state's two pension funds to save on investment fees. He expressed support for reducing the number of locally elected officials, for holding more elections on the same day and for consolidating local government services. He also praised the state Senate for approving a bill that would enshrine the state's limits on property tax increases in the constitution, if approved by voters.
He called for an end to social promotion in education and a fair, nonpartisan redistricting process, adding "the worst examples of gerrymandering and politician protection can be found in other states, but a glance at Indiana's current lines shows that they are nothing to be proud of."
He also said he hoped to see legislation passed that would garnish casino winnings of people who are delinquent on child support payments and impose tighter ethical standards on politicians.