Monday, December 31, 2012

Hoosiers show Wisconsin the way...down

As a former resident of the state of Indiana, I still keep tabs on how that place is doing. It was part of the reason I didn't want to miss yesterday's amazing tribute to Colts coach Chuck Pagano as he returned to the sidelines after being treated for cancer, and the Colts then hammering the Texans and knocking J.J. Watt and company out of home-field advantage for the playoffs.

But it also gives me a bit of insight on the policies of one of Scott Walker's political idols- Mitch Daniels (you can read the J-S's 2011 profile of Mitch and his influence on Walker here). Mitch is leaving the governorship of Indiana this week after serving two terms, and this story in the Indianapolis Star is a good indication of what'll happen if we allow the age of Fitzwalkerstan to continue.

It doesn't take long for you to see who benefitted from Mitch's 8 years in office- and it wasn't most Hoosiers.
During his 2004 campaign for governor, Mitch Daniels repeatedly slammed Democratic incumbent Joe Kernan for Indiana's economic decline, citing one statistic in particular in stump speeches, debates and essays.

"The average Hoosier now earns 88 cents for every dollar the average American earns," he often said.

To attack that problem, Daniels flung open the doors for business in Indiana. He reduced regulations, privatized some government services, balanced the state budget, reduced corporate taxes, improved infrastructure and supported "right-to-work" legislation -- all in the name of spurring economic development. (Sound familiar, folks?)

Those efforts have helped Indiana earn a reputation as one of the most business-friendly states in the country. The high mark: Honda's decision to build an auto manufacturing plant in Greensburg, where it now employs about 2,300 workers.

"He was tremendous in attracting business to the state. Everyone wanted to come," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue. "Why do you think a lot of people wanted him to be president?" (Note: Tom Donohue does not live in Indiana)

This year alone, the governor said at a recent event, 251 companies have said they plan to invest $6.57 billion in Indiana and create 27,858 jobs, setting a record. (Buuuuuut...) Still, the total number of private-sector jobs in Indiana has declined by 1.3 percent during Daniels' eight years in office as the U.S. total rose.
And that's just the beginning. The article goes on to note-
While the state has boosted its job-creation efforts, average per-capita personal income for Hoosiers has not budged when compared with other states -- and actually declined slightly during the Daniels era.

The average Hoosier now earns 86 cents for every dollar the average American makes, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Since Daniels was elected, Indiana has lost 50,000 private-sector jobs while the nation has added such jobs; gross domestic product and income growth have lagged the nation; unemployment is higher than the U.S. average; and the state's poverty rate has risen....

Private-sector jobs in Indiana have grown 6.2 percent since the low point of the recession in July 2009 -- faster than all other states except North Dakota, Texas and Utah. And state government is in strong fiscal health, unlike some of Indiana's neighbors.
Green eyeshade "making your numbers" mentality over service, results and better standards of living. Sound familiar? Here's some other Mitch statements from his first winning campaign in 2004 that should sound familiar to us that have observed Scott Walker in Wisconsin- heck, Walker probably plagiarized from it for his run in 2010.
"We will rebuild state government around the objective of income growth and new hope for Hoosiers," [Daniels] wrote in a guest column published in The Indianapolis Star. "We will measure, set aggressive targets for improvement, and drive relentlessly for results."

Daniels won the election by an eight-point margin.

But since he took office, Indiana's median household income growth has been slower than that of 37 other states.

Daniels downplayed such statistics during a recent interview, arguing that they don't take into account Indiana's low cost of living.

"The measure ought to be adjusted for the cost of living," he said. "The question is: How well are Hoosiers living? And what can Hoosiers' money buy?" (If that statement doesn't define the "race to the bottom" mentality, what does?)

By that measure, Indiana has lost even more ground, according to data compiled by the Indiana Office of Management & Budget. In 2004 -- the year Daniels was elected -- the average Hoosier earned 99 cents for every dollar the average American earned, based on after-tax income adjusted for cost of living. In 2011, that measure had dropped to 95 cents.

The state's poverty rate also has grown to nearly 16 percent from nearly 13 percent since Daniels took office. In 2005, Indiana was the 18th-poorest state in the nation. In 2011, it was 16th.
Yep, sounds like the direction Wisconsin is going, lower incomes, and poor economic performance compared to your peers.

And oh yeah, Scott Walker designed the money-wasting and corrupt WEDC on Daniels' IEDC. Well before we knew just how screwed-up WEDC was and still is, I was pointing out the problems and corruption at IEDC. This included inflated jobs numbers, numerous failed ventures, the unaccountable handing out of tax credits to bankrupt companies, and bullying local governments who were skeptical of these companies following through on their promises.

And 7 years after creating IEDC, Mitch Daniels' pet project still wasn't working, as even his own party was demanding more controls over it. Check out this article from last week.
Two Indiana Senate Republicans are joining the growing, bipartisan chorus of state officials seeking more transparency at the Indiana Economic Development Corp. amid lingering questions about how many jobs the semi-private agency actually creates and its endorsement of ventures that have not panned out.

Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, has introduced a bill that would require companies that receive tax incentives to provide an annual tally of how many jobs they have created. The bill also would require the IEDC to make that information public under open-records laws.

State law currently exempts the IEDC from disclosing much of that information on the grounds that doing so could harm negotiations with prospective employers....

[Delph] cited several news investigations that raised his concerns, including stories in The Indianapolis Star on tax incentives offered to projects around the state that never materialized, and an investigation by WTHR-13 that raised questions about whether the agency created as many jobs as it claims.
Again, this should be familiar to us in Wisconsin, especially with the revelation from last week that WEDC hadn't shown full financial statements to the WEDC Board, and that its audit committee had only met twice in 18 months.

The bottom line here is this. If you think Mitch Daniels' Confederate-style legacy of corporate cronyism, lower incomes, higher poverty and lower service levels is what Wisconsin should shoot for, then by all means, let's continue in the direction that we've been going under Scott Walker, because this is clearly what Scotty (and those who pull his strings) wants.

Me, I prefer a place with better wages, better living standards, more transparency in government, and a higher quality of life, and I'd highly recommend a change from the Hoosier-influenced leadership we've had here in America's Dairyland. There's a reason I wanted to move back to Wisconsin after 5 years in Indiana in 2005, and given that more than half of people getting bachelor's degrees in Indiana leave the state within 5 years, it looks like I'm hardly alone. Having a corporatist with backward-ass policies like Mitch Daniels will lead to that type of brain drain.

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