Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is taking aim at the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund. One of his priorities for the upcoming legislative session is to pass a bill that brings premiums and benefits in balance.
That likely means a cut in benefits and a hike in premiums for Hoosier businesses, including the manufacturers of more than half of the nation’s RVs.
Republicans gained control of both the Indiana House and Senate in Tuesday’s election, making it more feasible for Daniels to enact the changes.
Daniels, who is entering the second half of his second term as the Hoosier governor (he can’t run for re-election) and whose name has surfaced as a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2012, said today (Nov. 4) that a balanced budget, K-12 education, local government reform and a fair redistricting plan are among his top priorities for 2011.
“I want to present to the citizens of our state the outlines of a very ambitious agenda for more positive change in Indiana,” said Daniels. “It’s a big set of assignments and we are really excited about the chance for Indiana to surge forward on all of these fronts.”
The governor said over the next several weeks specifics of the agenda will be further developed. Daniels has already begun to meet with legislators from both parties to jumpstart discussions about these ideas.
Here are the governor’s legislative priorities:
- Pass a balanced budget without a general tax increase.
- Enact a straightforward state government spending cap in the form of an automatic taxpayer refund.
- Put students first and strengthen local flexibility.
Evaluate teachers on student learning so we can pay our best teachers more
- Hold schools accountable for student learning while giving them the flexibility to deliver better results under local control.
- Provide more quality options so parents can make informed decisions.
- Reward and protect our best state employees.
Protect the paycheck of every state employee by prohibiting mandatory dues payments
- Require annual state employee performance reviews so we can identify the best performers.
- Update and streamline the state employee classification system so we can pay our best performers more.
Improve transparency and efficiency of local government
- Eliminate nepotism and conflict of interest in local government.
- Abolish township boards and other outdated layers of government.
- Broaden public-private partnerships for public infrastructure.
- Free state government to enlist the private sector as a partner in building new roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
Develop a fair redistricting plan
- Redraw Indiana’s political districts on the basis of logical geographic and community boundaries.
Tackle the imbalance in the unemployment insurance trust fund
- Pass a bill that brings premiums and benefits in balance.
Address issues in Indiana’s sentencing laws
- Develop a comprehensive sentencing reform package that incarcerates all dangerous criminals while managing non-dangerous offenders in more cost-effective ways.
Audio of today’s news conference may be found here: http://in.gov/gov/files/Audio/110410.mp3.
Video of today’s news conference will be posted later today on the governor’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/ingovernor.
During a visit to Elkhart, Ind., last week, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said he continues to see some promising signs of an economic recovery.
Following the announcement that Dometic Corp. is bringing 241 jobs to its Elkhart plant from Sweden, Daniels spoke in generalities about what he’s seeing in his travels around the Hoosier state.
“One thing we were seeing in this economic downturn is a lot of companies consolidating and contracting — three plants to two, two plants to one. And we’ve had a long string of the contracting.
“The moment we saw how serious this situation would be, we had to look at the opportunity-side of the equation. The best businesses that I’m familiar with have usually gained market share from weaker competitors in down markets. I want our state to think that way. They’re not all international. The interesting part of this (Dometic accouncement) is that we are in-sourcing jobs not just from other states, but other countries. That just proves that if you want something built well and productively and cost-effectively, come to Indiana.”
Dometic also looked to move the jobs to either Mexico or China, Doug Whyte, Dometic president, noted during the press announcement.
When asked by RVBUSINESS.com whether the Dometic announcement was “part of a turning of the ship, so to speak,” Daniels replied, “Let me answer in two ways. In talking to people in the industry, there are some promising signs. If financing will loosen up, they think demand is there. Inventories are down some. Nothing could lead to a quicker bounce back for this area than a snap back in that particular segment.
“More broadly, I think we have to wait awhile to know. One thing in terms of the whole economy, people are, understandably, going to be more careful about their spending, their consumption, saving a little more.
“We want to be very cautious,” he stressed. “I’d love to see things roar back, but I don’t think we have the evidence of that yet. But in this industry, I’m very encouraged and that could be great news for this part of Indiana.”
Daniels could not immediately name other recent examples of international firms closing an operation abroad and moving production to Indiana, but he said there is a trend of consolidations into the Hoosier state.
“When they compare their Indiana facility to one in another state and occasionally another country, they are saying, ‘This is where we’ve got the best workers, the lowest taxes, the best transportation, all the elements for success.’
“So,” Daniels concluded, “we’re trying to fight back, in part, by making lemonade out of a tough national economy.”
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels today (Aug. 4) joined executives from Dometic LLC, an international manufacturer of recreational vehicle accessories, and praised the company’s plans to expand its manufacturing operations at two northern Indiana plants, creating more than 350 combined jobs by 2012.
The company, which makes accessories ranging from air conditioners to sanitation systems for the RV market, will invest a combined $10 million to increase production capacity at its Elkhart and LaGrange manufacturing operations. That includes more than $6.8 million to move its refrigerator manufacturing operations from Sweden to a 150,000-square-foot facility in Elkhart, creating 241 new jobs, and $3 million to move production from a plant in Mexico, which was lost to a fire in April, to Dometic’s LaGrange facility, where it will increase manufacturing capacity of retractable RV awnings, creating 116 new jobs.
“We’ve never had a doubt. RVs will be back. Elkhart will be back, and will resume its place as a major center of economic strength for our state,” said Daniels.
The company currently employs 60 workers at its Elkhart operations and plans to begin hiring assembly, welding, maintenance and management associates immediately as the facility is prepared for production launch later in the fall.
“Our growth is a direct result of our product quality and the dedication of our associates. This new RV refrigerator factory in Elkhart allows us to serve over 70% of our customers located within a 50-mile radius,” said Doug Whyte, president of Dometic.
The company will sponsor a jobs fair early next month and plans to begin production by early November, Whyte said.
Daniels made a point that the two expansions were examples of Indiana insourcing jobs from other countries, and that the two Hoosier communities were in competition with cities in China and Mexico.
“Don’t tell me we can’t compete efficiently with the world,” Daniels said.
Elkhart’s (and Indiana’s) central location with excellent transportation connections make both ideal places to do business, Daniels added. He called Elkhart “a great part of Indiana to do business” and added that though the county fell fast and hard, “all the elements are there” for a strong recovery.
Daniels was cautious in predicting when the economy will turn around, however. He does not expect the economy to “roar back,” but he sees signs of an upturn.
Including today’s announcement, projects announced for Elkhart County so far this year are expected to create more than 2,000 jobs. That includes Electric Motors Corp. (EMC), a manufacturer of electric power drive systems for heavy trucks, which will partner with RV manufacturer Gulf Stream Coach Inc. to invest more than $80 million to establish manufacturing operations in nearby Wakarusa. The partnership holds the potential to create more than 1,600 new jobs.
EMC CEO Will Cashen was present for today’s press conference and drew praise from Daniels, who called his EMC plans “fantastic” news for the community.
Dometic, which was founded in 1958 as a division of Electrolux, now holds operations in 10 countries and employs more than 4,200 associates. In addition to refrigerators, the company manufactures retractable awnings, climate control systems and sanitation systems for the RV, automobile, heavy truck and marine markets.
Whyte said Dometic has made 35 acquisitions in the past 37 years and continues to look for other businesses to acquire to add value to its business.
“We are pleased that Dometic has selected Elkhart as the site for the relocation of its Swedish production facility. This announcement and the subsequent creation of up to 241 net new jobs to the area could not have come at a better time,” said Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore.
“While the job losses that we as a community have experienced over the past 16 months have had a negative impact on our local economy, I am confident that better times lay ahead. We are a resilient community which has both faced and overcome adversity in the past. By partnering with the state, the Economic Development Corp. of Elkhart County and the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, we will leverage this success and will work diligently to bring additional positive economic development news to the community,” Moore said.
Moore said the Dometic announcement was an example of the “great news to tell” President Obama who is scheduled to visit nearby Wakarusa, Ind., on Wednesday and announce major economic assistance for the county.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC) offered Dometic LLC up to $1.1 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $320,000 in training grants across the two projects based on the company’s job creation plans. The Elkhart City Council late Monday approved additional property tax abatement for the project at the request of the Elkhart County Economic Development Corp. The town of LaGrange will consider additional property tax abatement.
“Dometic has been a great partner in the LaGrange community and we’re excited that they have chosen our county as the appropriate place to grow their operations,” said Keith Gillenwater, executive director of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp. “We look forward to working with Dometic as they grow.”
The IEDC has at least four other deals on the table for new business ventures coming to Elkhart County, David Behr, senior project manager for the IEDC’s North Central Region, told RVBusiness.
Dometic Group is a customer driven, world-leading provider of leisure products for the caravan, motorhome, automotive, truck and marine markets. Dometic supplies the industry and aftermarket with a complete range of air conditioners, refrigerators, awnings, cookers, sanitation systems, lighting, mobile power equipments, comfort – and safety solutions, windows, doors and other equipment.