Daniels to tout state’s relatively solid position in address

In his State of the State address Tuesday night, Gov. Mitch Daniels will press his longstanding position that low taxes and careful spending yields more jobs and differentiates Indiana from its neighbors, who are struggling mightily in the recession.

“We are all about jobs. The State of the State speech will largely be about that,” Daniels said Friday at a press conference. “The real jobs program for this state is to distinguish itself from other states, to keep spending down, to pay our bills on time and keep taxes down while the rest of America is raising them.”

“Every time we do that we become a little more competitive, and we are seeing … companies under pressure consolidating into Indiana because we are a better place for jobs than anywhere else.”

Daniels, a Republican, will deliver the annual State of the State address Tuesday night at 7 p.m. before a joint session of the Indiana House and Senate.

The speech is expected to last 30 minutes. In it, Daniels will lay out a case comparing Indiana’s relatively healthy fiscal condition to many other states, which are swimming in a sea of red ink. He’ll explain how a balanced budget and carefully deployed surplus translates into economic development.

“I will talk a lot about the state’s fiscal condition. I’ll be thanking the General Assembly for their own work and putting the budget together,” Daniels said. “I’ll be thanking [legislators] for the flexibility they have given us to deal with the shortfalls that we have experienced since that budget, and I’ll certainly try to put this in some context by talking about the catastrophes that are going [on] in the vast majority of the states in this country, but not here.”

Daniels said he drafted his State of the State speech in December, but has since revised it to note the progress the General Assembly has already made, or is poised to deliver, on issues including enshrining property tax caps in Indiana’s Constitution and the modernization of local government. Daniels also intends to discuss removing politics from the process of legislative redistricting.

Bottom line: expect a call to arms urging legislators to keep their belts tight and their noses to the grindstone.

“I have always taken the view, this is our third short session, that any tradition that those were do-nothing sessions ought to be left behind,” Daniels said. “We can’t skip a year. My impression is that even though this is a short, off-year session, that some really important work is going on and may well be completed.”

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