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Daniels wants changes in education, unemployment

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Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels said benefits will have to be cut for people who are out of work and unemployment insurance taxes on businesses will have to be raised to repair the state's out-of-balance jobless program.

The changes are part of Daniels' legislative agenda for 2011, when Republicans will control the House, Senate and governor's office. He also wants to expand charter schools, establish merit pay for teachers, abolish parts of local government, pass a balanced budget without a general tax increase and make changes to criminal sentencing laws.

"We are really excited about the chance for Indiana to surge forward on all of these fronts," Daniels told reporters in his office Thursday as he discussed his priorities.

Daniels said the state's unemployment insurance fund — which pays out more in benefits than it gets in taxes from businesses and is relying on money borrowed from the federal government to stay solvent — can't be fixed by simply raising business premiums.

"There are going to have to be changes in both directions," he said.

But Democrats — who were relegated Tuesday to the minority and will have no control in state government in 2011 — said unemployed residents are already struggling to survive on the current maximum benefits of $390 a week.

"It's going to be disastrous," said outgoing House Speaker Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, who will become House Minority Leader in January.

Daniels didn't have specifics on how much he wanted to cut benefits or raise unemployment insurance taxes on businesses. But he said he'll work with lawmakers to find common ground.

An economic forecast released Thursday by Indiana University economists predicted the state would see slow job growth and only a slight decline in its unemployment rate of more than 10 percent during the coming year.

State revenues are about even with forecasts and are showing slight growth over last year's numbers. Daniels said the state is financially stable right now, and that lawmakers must pass a new balanced, two-year budget without any general tax increases. He also suggested a state spending cap that would give taxpayers a refund if state government was collecting more money than it needed.

Daniels has already cut spending by hundreds of millions of dollars to balance the state's books, including $300 million from public schools. But Daniels said Thursday he didn't expect any further cuts to K-12 education given current revenues.

Daniels' agenda does include plenty of changes for schools, however. He said he was open to vouchers that would help parents pay for their children to go to private schools, and wants to expand the number of charter schools in Indiana and establish merit pay for teachers. Daniels also suggested a program that would let high school students graduate in 11th grade, and then use the money that would pay for their senior year toward post-secondary education instead.

Bauer said much of Daniels' education agenda aims to privatize schools.

"I think that's dangerous," he said.

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  • Daniels is a Joke
    Daniels has the nerve to say people are struggling making $390 a week in unemployment? What a joke. I work at the welfare office and I barely make this a week. The people living off food stamps and unemployment eat better than the employees dishing them out. Daniels also had some private company come in the welfare office and their wages don't come close to $390 a week. Daniels is lying. He only wants to privatize everything to line his pockets from the special interests.
  • Good job Jim
    How refreshing it is to see someone in these message boards who actually has their eyes open to what Daniels is doing. Merit pay is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. If we go that route, then let's reform health care along the same standards. Let's start blaming cavities on our dentists and obesity on our family doctors!

    And as far as running schools like a business, Matt, that's the worst possible way to run an educational system. Children are not products of schools. It is not the school's job to turn out cookie-cutter children and even the most prestigious private school or Daniels-run charter school would eventually fail at that. But when public schools are obsolete and Mitch's golden charter schools start having to deal with legitimate problems, maybe you'll see the error of your thinking. The whole problem in Indiana (and many other states) is that the government tries to run schools like businesses.

    Bottom line, Mitch is doing nothing helpful. He is simply expanding the tax base and using the money to pad Indiana's budget so he can look good for a presidential run in 2012.
  • @Jim
    Jim, I think you are misunderstanding what Mitch is trying to do. He is trying to give more families the OPTION to go to private schools. If you believe hes trying to route all public schools I am afraid your just wrong. The fact that I have to pay for your child to get A's in school while you pay for my two kids to flunk is wrong. He is trying to fix a broken education system that runs on tax payers money and have more schools run like a business which will allow themselves to become self sustaining without the backing of any government. More affordable private schools YES... removing public schools, not quite.
  • Better Leave the State for a Good Education and a Good job
    Daniels wants no Public Education. Cut their funding until they go out of business and people who have means can send their kids to Private schools. It is a matter of Survival and the Privilege. It is not Daniels fault that everyone is not wealthy enough to send their kids to private schools. He succeeded in makeing sure education is no longer funded locally but is controlled by the state in its new Wal-Mart style just the minimum amount required approach. And when we no longer have busineses here because they all move oversea because their kids are better educated, Mitch and the GOP will be happy because they have all the money for their tax breaks and loop holes paid for by the rest of us
    • Early Learning Big ROI
      Find a way to incentivize parents to send their kids to learning pre-schools and full-day K! Having all kids start 1st grade knowing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, how to write their name, and how to line up and sit quietly would really help!

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