Who is this motorcycle-riding governor? Mitch Daniels has turned Indiana into the "go-to" state for business and jobs. What is he doing right?
There is something to be said for experience. Daniels came into office with a lot of experience in budgets. He was president of Lilly's North American pharmaceutical operations, and he was later Director of the Office of Management and Budget for President George W. Bush. He was elected governor in 2004, which was pretty amazing considering he had never run for any office before.
Since he came into office, the state has grown into a place for business and jobs, and he has eliminated its deficit and balanced its budget without raising taxes. That's right--without raising taxes and even cutting property taxes. The key is to get people employed and businesses growing, and tax revenues grow on their own.
Too often Republicans are accused of not caring about the environment, which is a very tiring accusation. Daniels was recognized by Ducks Unlimited for setting aside acres of protected wetlands and wildlife habitats. For those who have never visited Indiana, it is a beautiful state with natural grasslands and many bird species and native plants. Natural grasslands are disappearing due to conversion to agriculture, and projects in states like Indiana are very important to preserve these plant, animal and bird species that depend on grasslands.
How does he do what he does? He runs the state like a business, not an ideology. That's exactly how it should be done. Not that social issues aren't important, but they really aren't the business of government. Government cannot legislate us into an ideology, but that doesn't stop many in government from trying. And the results are, on both national and state levels, high deficits, misguided reforms, and poor stewardship of tax-payer dollars.
Daniels has not indicated he's interested in running for president in 2012. Even if he stays as governor or serves in some other capacity in the future, all so-called leaders in government should take a look at what he's achieved and borrow his playbook.