3.30.2006

NR likes ‘The Blade’

Since my only source for State news is the unfortunate 10+ hours of WFYI I listen to every week (my commute) I’ve apparently been under the apparently false impression that Governor Mitch “The Blade” Daniels sucks and everyone hates him. Even with my trust of Public Radio news reporting at a historic low I too believed that the “Major Moves” program and the Telcom deregulation bill would consign our children to a future of slavery to jackbooted Australians and be forced to watch 130 channels of HSN. As surprising as it may be, National Review and WFYI have different assessments of My Man Mitch.

There’s about to be a building boom in Indiana, which is desperate good news
for a state that has been severely challenged by the global manufacturing shift
and years of ambivalent leadership.

The chief architect of the boom
is the state’s decisive Governor Mitch Daniels, President Bush’s former budget
director. In Washington, Daniels drew scorn from congressional big spenders,
acquiring the nickname “the blade” for his cost-cutting and privatizing ways.
(The moniker could just as easily apply to his sharp wit and intellect.) The
spenders in Washington, however, won those battles — big time — swallowing the
blade and earning today’s enmity from the Republican base. But now Daniels is
back home and in charge, and he is engineering a turnaround of an entire state
with sophistication.

In the state’s short legislative session, just
completed, Daniels achieved two sweeping victories. The first is the nation’s
most aggressive telecommunications deregulation, which will spur hundreds of
millions of dollars of investment in invisible infrastructure — the “fibers and
frequencies” of the digital age, as Daniels describes it. The second is a $4
billion privatization lease of the Indiana Toll Road and the new I-69
interstate. This will fund the largest-ever upgrade of Indiana’s visible
infrastructure: its antique roads and bridges.

Ironically, Daniels’
“Major Moves” plan to lease the Indiana Toll Road, the seemingly more tame and
obvious measure, turned out to be far more controversial. It passed by a single
vote with just 15 minutes remaining in this year’s legislative session. Weeks
before anyone had heard of Dubai Ports World, the bid by Australian-Spanish
consortium Macquarie-Cintra to manage Indiana’s 157-mile stretch of I-80/90 had
already ignited a xenophobic melee in the heartland. But unlike the DP World
roll-out, Daniels had actually sought bidders for the Toll Road. His proposition
was simple: The winning contractor will pay Indiana $4 billion for an asset that
has never been profitable in government hands; the state gets to keep that
asset; the contractor upgrades the asset with new technology and an additional
$4 billion in improvements; and the state gets to fund a decade’s worth of other
major infrastructure projects, some of which have been on the drawing board for
twenty years. (Just last year Chicago leased its “Skyway” to Macquarie-Cintra
for $1.8 billion. The Skyway connects Indiana’s Toll Road to Chicago, thus
yielding a seamlessly managed road from Ohio to the Windy City.)

3 comments:

Joe said...

I was against the idea when he planned to sell the road, but the lease seems ok, as long as the company doesn't jack up the toll.

I'm more concerned with his environmental record than anything else.

Andrew said...

Yeah a lot of people I work with complain about the comparatively lax enforcement of environmental regulations in Indiana vs. some other states. I haven’t been here long enough to have an opinion either way. However I do recall this () which sets the bar pretty low for Mitch.

I forgot to mention that I got to talk with the guy for a few mins when it was announced the company I work for was getting some city/state tax abatement. He’s not very charismatic. I recall thinking that Mitch is what Payton Manning will look like in 30 years if he gets his shins blown off. He’s a tiny, tiny little man.

Andrew said...

Here's the link I intended to put in the "()":
http://www2.indystar.com/library/factfiles/environment/white_river/fish_kill.html