We're in a very good place and poised on the edge of greatness.
In his eight years in office, Gov. Mitch Daniels has been both visionary and effective, two traits that don’t always go together. Republican Mike Pence would continue the philosophy and practices of Daniels, and Democrat John Gregg would not. That makes the governor’s race an easy call – choose Pence and we will have the same kind of good news for the state we’ve had for the last eight years.
That will mean, among other things, a prudent fiscal conservatism that balances the state budget, keeps enough money available for the essentials and doesn’t squander the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. It will mean looking for innovative ways to provide those services. It will mean continuing to make Indiana the most business-friendly state in the union. It will mean continuing the education reforms that will give all Hoosier children a boost.
Pence’s Roadmap for Indiana lists the six goals he says will push Indiana from “good” column to “great”: increase private sector employment; increase investment in our strengths (such as medical devices); improve the quality of the work force; improve math and reading skills in elementary schools; increase graduation rates; and increase the health and well-being of Indiana families. Yes, they are vague on details the way most political proposals are, but they are the right goals and the right number of them – enough to make a difference but not so many that some will get lost in the process.
Gregg is not a bad candidate. He is interested in cutting some taxes, and that is never a bad thing. He, too, would focus on education, though he would concentrate on early childhood education in contrast to Pence’s emphasis on vocational education. He is mindful of the need for strong economic development.
But he’s the wrong candidate for the times, and it’s been hard to get a clear impression of his agenda. He started out with ads portraying a jokey, folksy former Speaker of the House with a funny moustache. Then, when polls showed him far behind, he switched to attack mode, portraying himself as the reasonable moderate willing to work with everybody and Pence as the wild-eyed tea party monster ready to shove a bunch of “traditional value” social issues down our throats. It doesn’t fly – yes, Pence is a conservative. And Indiana is conservative – get over it.
Pence will not be a bold governor in the way that Daniels was. But he doesn’t have to be. For the last eight years, we have been inching toward a very good place, and we are there now. And we could be on the verge of something truly great. Let’s not blow it.