Governor tells locals Indiana holding its own in tough times

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks to members of the Huntington Optimists, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs on Thursday, Feb. 4, at Huntington University.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels speaks to members of the Huntington Optimists, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs on Thursday, Feb. 4, at Huntington University. Photo by Andre B. Laird.

Despite the poor economy throughout the nation, Indiana has been holding its own and actually gaining on its neighbors, Gov. Mitch Daniels told an audience in Huntington on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Speaking to members of the Huntington Optimists, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs at Huntington University, Daniels spoke about the current state of Indiana as well as strides being made to combat the recession.

His presentation was titled, "Fighting the Recession to Win."

The governor started out with statistics that have Indiana leading the nation or among the best in the nation in several categories including "best places for business in 2009" and "best in the Midwest for low taxes."

"We are one of only four states in the nation that are experiencing ‘net-in' migration this decade," Daniels noted. "That's when you have people from other states moving to our state as opposed to leaving."

One of the reasons for the low turnover rate is the fact that Indiana is one of only a few states that have not raised taxes since the recession started, he added.

"We have made some tough decisions, some unpopular decisions, in an effort to ensure that we keep as much money in your pocket as possible," Daniels told the group. "Our reserves are currently being spent and will be completely depleted at the end of this fiscal year.
As bad as that sounds, it has still enabled us to stay in the black, when other states, including our neighbors, are facing tough economic times."

Daniels said that although cuts have been made to high priority programs including education (by 2.7 percent), the percentages are way below the national average.

"There are 28 states that have cut healthcare and at least 24 that have cut programs that benefit the elderly and disabled," stated Daniels. "We have not done so."
He added that the state's problems are not minor or to be overlooked, however.

"Our revenue projections show less money coming in next year and based on the first half of the fiscal year, is the lowest it has been since 2004," Daniels noted. "A large amount of that is due to a decrease in sales tax revenue, employment tax revenue and revenue from gasoline, utilities, tourism and hospitality, home improvements among others."

He added that his office was committed to trying to handle the recession better than other states and that he was hopeful and optimistic with the current state of affairs.

"We have over 800 businesses committed to bringing over 100,000 new jobs to Indiana," Daniels stated. "Also, because of our commitment to making Indiana one the bests states to do business, we have been on the upside of many competitive consolidation efforts."

Competitive consolidation involves a firm's dilemma in figuring out where to consolidate its workforce. Many firms are choosing to stay with their Indiana plant or move to Indiana because of the lower costs of operations, Daniels said.

"We have had firms from our neighboring states, Michigan and Ohio as well as Mexico and Canada," stated Daniels. "Michigan ranks as number one on the list."

He added that in bringing new jobs to the state, emphasis is also being placed on gaining jobs that would pay more.

"The more money we can bring in to help Hoosiers, the better," Daniels noted. "We are committed to creating the perfect sandbox, that has all the incentives that businesses are looking for and would appeal to them. By doing so, more revenue helps us get out of the recession faster without going into debt."