(AP) — Gov. Mitch Daniels urged lawmakers during his State of the State
speech Tuesday night to end the practice of schools promoting third graders
to the fourth grade even if they cannot read well.
“We must address
the single greatest cause of student failure, the inability of so many of
our children to read proficiently,” Daniels told a House chamber packed with
lawmakers, judges and others.
“If a school
accomplishes nothing else in a child’s decisive first years, it simply must
enable him or her to read and comprehend the English language,” he said.
committee plans to consider legislation to prohibit the “social promotion”
of many third graders who cannot read proficiently.
used his speech to promote changes designed to remove the politics from
redistricting, and to pass legislation to tighten ethics and lobbying rules.
The Democrat-controlled House already has passed such an ethics bill, and
the Republican-ruled Senate is working on its own version.
lawmakers should work to streamline state government, in part by eliminating
township boards that have more than 3,000 elected officials and transferring
their duties to counties. The Senate has a bill that would eliminate
township boards outright, while the House has passed legislation that would
allow voters to decide in November whether to get rid of their township
boards and township trustees.
acknowledged that the economy was taking a toll on state government and the
lives of many Indiana residents.
have fallen far short of previous projections, forcing Daniels to make
hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts in recent months, including
$150 million from higher education and $300 million from public schools.
Even with those
actions, a surplus that stood at $1.3 billion in July is expected to be
drained by the end of the two-year budget cycle in June 2011 if revenue
trends continue. But Daniels repeated his contention that Indiana was is in
better fiscal shape than most states, many of which have or plan to raise
He used a Warren
Buffett quote to help make his point.
“Our day’s most
celebrated business sage says, ‘You don’t know who’s been swimming naked
’til the tide goes out.’ Well the tide is out, and now we know.
“I hope you will
join me in saying tonight to the people of Indiana, for whom we all work, we
will make the hard choices, we will stretch the available dollars, we will
do whatever is necessary but we will not take the easy way out and we will
not make this recession worse by adding one cent to the tax burden of our
fellow citizens,” he said.
passage of one of his top priorities earlier Tuesday when the Senate gave
final approval to legislation that will let voters decide in November
whether to amend limits on property tax bills into the state constitution.
already caps property tax increases on homeowners to 1 percent of their
homes’ assessed values, with 2 percent caps on rental property and 3 percent
caps on business property. But putting the caps into the constitution will
make it harder for future legislatures to undo.
“You gave the
people the chance to decide, as I believe they will, that lower property
taxes are here to stay,” Daniels said.
unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in November, but it is lower than that of
Indiana’s four neighboring states. Daniels said Indiana is competitive when
it comes to attracting new jobs. In 2009 when national business investment
fell by almost one-fourth, he said, Indiana’s job commitments grew over a
near record achieved in 2008. Indiana secured nearly 20,000 new job
commitments last year, according to the administration.
Speaker Patrick Bauer of South Bend and Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson,
D-Bloomington, said Daniels should have talked about more specific ways to
bring jobs to Indiana.
absolutely nothing new,” Simpson said. “I heard no hope for people who are
“What they do
not need to hear is another recitation of that tired old saying, ’We’re
doing better than our neighboring states,”’ Bauer said.
Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Daniels’ speech was positive and
nonpartisan and spoke to Indiana’s environment for attracting new job
distinguishing ourselves from our neighbors in the Midwest,” Long said.