Friday, December 10, 2010

This is What a Real Governor Looks Like

Mona Charen's piece on Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and the prospect of him running for president, is bitter-sweet for Kentucky Republicans.

On the one hand, Daniels would be an outstanding president; conservatives are lucky that a man of such substance is even considering a run. America would be blessed.

On the other hand, for those of us who live just across the Ohio River from Indiana, Charen's profile reminds us how a competent governor can transform a state. The contrast between Daniels' record of achievement and Beshear's mediocrity could not be more stark.

Inheriting a $600 million deficit, Daniels transformed it into a $370 million surplus within one year, without raising taxes. "You'd be amazed how much government you'll never miss," he grins. Six years on, Indiana now enjoys a AAA bond rating, boasts the fewest state workers per capita in the nation, enjoys the third-highest private-sector job growth in the nation, has seen property taxes drop by an average of 30 percent, and was ranked first in the Midwest for business climate by the Tax Foundation. Daniels was named Public Official of the Year in 2008 by Governing magazine.

It isn't that he has simply accomplished economies. Daniels believes in improving government's performance -- cutting less important spending in favor of more important, and keeping close tabs on results. Under his leadership, the state has increased K-12 education funding by 12 percent, hired 800 new child welfare workers, added 150 more state troopers, provided free or reduced price medications to 288,000 Hoosiers through the Rx for Indiana program, reduced wait times at the DMV to fewer than eight minutes, funded a $10 billion infrastructure improvement plan to repair roads and bridges, and improved health care for the low-income through the Healthy Indiana Plan, which encouraged healthy behaviors (and which may be unsustainable if Obamacare is not repealed).

You did not misread: in Indiana, wait time at the DMV has been reduced to "fewer than eight minutes."

Compare that to a trip to the DMV in Kentucky, which is akin to walking on coals through hell.

I have governor envy. I want a real governor, like Mitch Daniels. Instead we get Steve Beshear, the seat warmer.

We can't have Daniels as governor. But we can have him as president.

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