Gov. Daniels talks about plans to bring jobs to Indiana

Gov. Mitch Daniels
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Kevin Rader/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The number one issue in the state and the nation is jobs. In part two of our year-ending series with Gov. Mitch Daniels, he talked about plans to put Hoosiers back to work.

(Note: Part one of our interview with the governor was about education. Read it here.)

WTHR: "Let's turn to jobs. We started with education because it is important for our kids, but what do you want to accomplish there?"

Daniels: "Obviously we want to get back to the full employment we had reached in Indiana. It seems forever ago but really it was just two, two and a half years ago and we won't rest until every Hoosiers who wants a job has a good one."

WTHR: "How do we do that?"

Daniels: "It has to be said that we have to have a stronger national economy. No state can hide from a recession as severe as this one. What can we do? We are doing everything we know how. We've built one of the best jobs climates in America. Everyone who assesses this says so. We've improved our rankings everywhere you look in terms of attractiveness to new jobs. We go out and compete for them. We just broke the all time record for jobs committed to Indiana when we compete with other states and obviously we are trying to do all we can to commit to all the training and retraining of our workers so we can change the job mix in our state. But it has been very frustrating having done all of that and really come to the front rank of American states and get kicked back downstairs a little by a national economy that stopped cold."

WTHR: "There has been some discrepancy or argument about the jobs...the number of jobs promised and the number of jobs delivered. How do you square that? I imagine the economy weighs in on that and I know they are held accountable because they don't get any aid or assistance if they don't deliver those jobs which is a key point, but still, how do you square that?"

(See 13 Investigates report "Where are the jobs?" which looks at claims by the state about how many jobs have been created.)

Daniels: "Well it's no news flash that when a recession comes, companies everywhere have to change their plans. They have to postpone growth they were hoping to accomplish and that is what happened here. But we never paid a cent for a job that didn't show. That is the way we structure these things. The incentives are much lower per job than any other state we can find and we are not going to stop looking for jobs. I mean, we can make this statistical question go away if we just quit bringing in any jobs at all and shut up shop but that is not the idea. So if in a given year we had 20,000 commitments and 15,000 or 16,000 jobs have actually gotten here so far then number one, that is all for the good and number two, we still hope those 5,000 or 6,000 will come eventually when the economy warms up."

WTHR: "Did I read recently that Wisconsin is thinking about copying your IEDC model?"

Daniels: "Yes and they are not the only one. I have read and heard from several new governors. I think Ohio might do the same thing so that's okay. There is no copyright on these things so we do believe we have built a better mousetrap there and the results show it."

Daniels has argued that reforming local government is key to help the tax structure in Indiana. He says he plans to press forward with bipartisan recommendations of the Kernan-Shepard commission.

"Of the 27 recommendations, seven have been accomplished in full or in large measure. I think we can add to that this year. The nepotism that we still permit should not be allowed. The conflict of interest that's permitted should not be allowed. Obviously I think we should try to take out some of the extra layers and costs that go with structures like township governments that were great at one time but have really outlived their purpose."

WTHR: "Have you thought about the things you want to accomplish these final two years?"

Daniels: "Sure. This year obviously, first and fundamentals, maintain the fiscal stability and strength of the state. We do stand apart from other states. Delivering all the vital services, paying our bills on time, we've kept taxes down and 35 states have not. That's first. But criminal justice reform, local government reform, education reform - these would be great building blocks for a better future and we got a good chance of doing it."

WTHR: "Will what you do in these final two years determine whether or not you've been a success in this office?"

Daniels: "I always leave the report cards to others. I can guarantee you no matter how much more is accomplished, I'll always think about the things I wish we could have done more of or things we didn't get done. I think by anybody's measure, it's been a very action-packed, eventful first six years and we don't intend to lift our foot off the gas."

Daniels called Lt.Gov. Becky Skillman's decision not to run for governor a "loss for the state" but pointed out "we'll still have her for two more years and as good in that job as a person could be." Daniels also said Skillman was ready in "every respect" to run but that he respects her decision.