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Indiana Governor Speaks in Champaign, Unions Protest

In a visit to Champaign Thursday, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels spoke little of controversial legislation that brought thousands to the city to rally, but touted other ways he's addressed his state's business climate.

Daniels told over 400 people at the Champaign County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner that his approach to restoring Indiana's fiscal health included less government, and less spending. He said the lower the taxes, the more money that was left over to hire people. Daniels said state government took on the same mindset that went into every great business he's seen.

"And everybody knew what their role, or the role of their unit, was in delivering that goal," he said. "We are here to raise the disposable income of Hoosiers. That's what we're here for. We're going to do everything we can to attract better jobs, jobs that pay better than today. And then we're going to run the people's business the best way we know how so that we can leave more of those dollars in the pockets of the people who earn them."

The second term governor also cited Indiana's corporate income tax, worker's compensation, and property taxes as being lower than they are in Illinois. But Daniels only jokingly referred to the contentious right-to-work measure he signed this year, saying Illinois should not pass its own, so Indiana holds the advantage in luring employers.

Daniels also made parallels between his achievements in Indiana and what can be done at the federal level. He said government leaders need to be careful when using the 'coercive power of the state' to take money from people.

"Everyone in a position of public trust should ask him or herself everyday - did we really need that?" Daniels said. "We should only take dollars away from free citizens for a strictly necessary purpose, and then some people forget this part - you've got an equally solemn duty to spend it to the absolute maximum effect - never waste one of those dollars once you've taken it."

Daniels also says the country is seeing an 'erosion of opportunities' for a vibrant and stable middle class, calling for reforms of entitlement programs and spending reductions across the board.

About a year ago, Daniels announced he wasn't running for president in 2012. But he didn't speculate on his political future Thursday night.

Meanwhile, a few thousand came to Champaign to protest prior to the speech by Daniels, protesting legislation he signed earlier this year.

The rally included union members from Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Indiana, which became a right-to-work state in February. The legislation bars union contracts from requiring non-union members to pay representation fees.

Deb Takehara is an organizer with the Illinois Federation of Teachers out of Chicago. She's not convinced that Governor Quinn's criticisms of right to work will hold up in the future.

"Just because Quinn is saying today that he doesn't think it's a good idea today doesn't mean he won't change his mind tomorrow," Takehara said. "I think we need to be organized, and we need to stand up every single day and say no, so that legilslators know that we don't want this to happen here."

Rally Organizer Larry Swope is the Executive Director of the Illinois State Pipe Trades, and also chairs the committee for 'Right to Work Won't Work' in Illinois.

Swope said Gov. Quinn would never sign such a measure.

"But it's important to get organized labor awake again, and make sure they understand that what happened in Indiana two years ago, they didn't they were going to have the right-to-work (measure)," he said. "So this was to get our people fired up, this was to let the politicians know at the (Repbublican) event know that the right to work isn't going to work in Illinois."

The group started its protest outside the University of Illinois' Assembly Hall, then moved it to the Hilton Garden Inn, where Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was speaking.

(Video courtesy of Maria Renear)

Categories: Government, Politics