Most state budgets are in crisis. The Big Picture’s Barry Ritholtz notes that state tax revenue has fallen sharply the last two quarters. The left wing Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes that "[a]t least 48 states addressed or are facing shortfalls in their budgets for the upcoming year."
Not Indiana. Under Mitch Daniels’ leadership the state reported a $1.3b surplus. The State Auditor Tim Berry noted that they even raised school funding:
Berry stood in front of charts Friday that show Indiana increased school funding, avoided a tax hike, and maintained a surplus of about 10%. […]
"Measures that were taken early on by Governor Mitch Daniels to restrain spending have amounted for a large amount of these fiscal reserves," Berry said.
The Louisville paper notes that tax revenue was even down $1.2b below projections:
The state had $1.33 billion in its main checking account and reserves when the fiscal year ended June 30. That’s roughly the same as one year ago, even though state taxes brought in $1.2 billion less than originally projected.
How’s that for successful governance? No wonder there is a draft movement for Mitch Daniels for President.
Last weekend, I was in Indiana for the Young Republican National Convention. I had heard a little bit about Mitch Daniels, the Republican governor who was re-elected wtih over 60% of the vote in 2008, even though Barack Obama won the state. In Indianapolis, he even got over 20% of the African American vote.
So I started digging around on his governing record. I was pretty astonished by this one. Daniels has actually been shrinking government. They have a little over 30,000 public employees right now. That’s the lowest number since 1983.
You might notice the sharp decline that started in 2004 when he took over.
Rich Lowry recently noted what a bad hand he was dealt, and how he has turned it around.
When Daniels took office, Indiana had an $800 million deficit. He turned it into a $1.3 billion surplus (although it will be eaten into in the current downturn). Since 2005, he’s saved roughly $450 million in the state’s budget and reduced the state’s rate of spending growth from 5.9 percent to 2.8 percent. "I tell you with certainty," Daniels told his Washington audience, "concern about the debt and deficit has not gone out of style."
No wonder people are talking about this guy for President. He has actually run something successfully.