Manufacturing in State of the State Addresses: Indiana

Gov. Mitch Daniels delivers a State of the State address that doesn’t mention “manufacturing?” That makes no reference of “industry?”

How can that be? Daniels is governor of the most manufacturing-intensive state in the nation, a governor who made efficient and responsive government, fiscal responsibility and economic growth the hallmarks of his Administration. The Republican handily won re-election in 2008 because of the successes in implementing that vision, including major new manufacturing investments in the state.

Those successes — and the relative short length of the speech — probably explain the omission of the word “manufacturing.” Hoosiers know his goals and know his record. Rather than rehash or tweak, now is the time to redouble the efforts in areas that still needs work: local government and education. The educational portion of Daniels’ speech should be of intense interest to manufacturers and could easily apply to any state. From the text:

Let’s start by affirming once again that our call for major change in our system of education, like that of President Obama, his education secretary and so many others, is rooted in a love for our schools, those who run them and those who teach in them. But it is rooted most deeply in a love for the children whose very lives and futures depend on the quality of the learning they either do or do not acquire while in our schools. Nothing matters more than that. Nothing compares to that.

Some seek change in education on economic grounds, and they are right. To win and hold a family-supporting job, our kids will need to know much more than their parents did. I have seen the future competition, every time I go abroad in search of new jobs for our state, in the young people of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China. Let me tell you—those kids are good. They ought to be. They are in school, not 180 days a year like here, but 210, 220, 230 days a year. By the end of high school, they have benefited from two or three years more education than Hoosier students. Along the way, they have taken harder classes. It won’t be easy to win jobs away from them.

It’s not just tomorrow’s jobs that are at stake. The quality of Indiana education matters right now. When we are courting a new business, right behind taxes, the cost of energy, reasonable regulation, and transportation facilities comes schools. “What kind of school will my children, and our workers’ children attend?” is a question we’re always asked. Sometimes, in some places, it costs us jobs today. There is no time to wait.

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