Mitch Daniels Feigns Ignorance When Asked About Indiana's Poor Ranking For Worker Salaries

Former Bush budget director and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was more than happy to tout his state's union busting as a model for the country during his interview on Fox News Sunday, but when asked about Indiana's ranking as 46th in state worker gross
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Former Bush budget director and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was more than happy to tout his state's union busting as a model for the country during his interview on Fox News Sunday, but when asked about Indiana's ranking as 46th in state worker gross salary, the best he could come up with is to pretend he'd never heard those stats before.

Daniels bragged that his state has been "rated as one of the best jobs climates in the country by everyone now." I'm guessing "everyone now" means businesses that would like a race to the bottom on wages and benefits and not the workers whose collective bargaining rights he just destroyed.

WALLACE: Well, let's look at what you have done as governor of Indiana. It is a long list. Let's take a look.

In 2005, you ended collective bargaining rights for state workers on first day in office. In 2011, you restricted teachers bargaining rights. In 2012, this year, you signed a right to work law that said people don't have to join a union to get a job.

It sounds, Governor, like a pretty concerted effort to break public and private unions.

DANIELS: I don't see it that way at all. Now, I will say that on the government side, we felt if we were going to do right by taxpayers and if we were going to make government work effectively as it does in Indiana, there was a survey last year in which 77 percent of Hoosiers said they thought the state government was effective. It's the second highest number in the country. If we do those things we have to have freedom to move resources where they were need, move people where they were needed, pay people on the basis of their performance and not simply their seniority, and we are doing that in the state now, I think to a very positive affect.

Right to work in the private side is a different disagreement, Chris, and there, it is simply a matter of bringing more jobs to the state. Indiana has been winning two-thirds of the time to get a shot at new jobs. We have been rated as one of the best jobs climates in the country by everyone now.

But, there was a very large percentage of the time and a third of all of the opportunities, we didn't get a shot at because the businesses were their own reasons insisted on this freedom.

So, two separate questions as we saw them -- we're not going after anybody. We're just going after better government and more jobs for people in our state.

WALLACE: But to take a look at this and all the reforms as you would call it. Government workers in your state have taken a hit. Indiana ranks 46th in state worker gross salary. And public employees in Indiana must pay more for health care coverage than they used to. I mean, they have paid a price because of all of your actions.

DANIELS: I disagree completely. Particularly those who have been rated the best performers and the highest raises by far in state history, in fact, ever in state history. I think we have a fair system now. State workers praise them all of the time. I think the ones that I encounter are rightly proud of the job we are doing.

And as I just mentioned, their fellow citizens appreciate them here in a way that maybe is not the case elsewhere.

WALLACE: But how -- what about this figure I just gave you. Indiana ranking 46 in the 50 states in state worker gross salary.

DANIELS: I don't know where they come from and I've never seen them before. I can't comment on them.

WALLACE: I mean, have in fact -- you know, we have a lot of information in terms of gross salary and in terms of the cost to the state worker and health care benefits that those have gone up a lot?

DANIELS: Well, Chris, all I can tell you that we believe that the most effective state government in America. We have very low turnover, lower than before, among our state employees. Maybe that says something.

We think we have the best health care plan anywhere. It is one which is leading to much lower increases in costs. By the way, 93 percent of Indiana state workers have a health savings account. They are accumulating tens of millions of dollars that they control on those accounts and they are renewing in a high rate -- satisfaction rate every year. So, we're not really believing that we have done anything but improve the lot of Indiana public employees.

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