Now that he is done balancing Indiana’s budget, Gov. Mitch Daniels declared in his Jan. 16 State of the State address that it’s time to invest at least $250 million more in education by phasing in full-day kindergarten, starting this year.
The initiative, the centerpiece of his education platform, flopped in Indiana when pitched by the two previous governors, both Democrats. Gov. Daniels, a Republican who is in the middle of his first term, acknowledged that the idea wasn’t his, but said that its time has come, starting with the lowest-income children.
“After years of study, debate, and failed attempts, let’s make an irrevocable commitment to full-day kindergarten for every family that wants it,” he said.
Gov. Daniels also wants to improve health care for the state’s youngest children by raising the cigarette tax and using the proceeds to pay for vaccines for low-income children, as well as for health care for uninsured children and adults.
He also used the speech to help promote one of his most controversial proposals, unveiled last month, which calls for contracting out the Hoosier Lottery to a private company and using the upfront payment to fund merit-based college scholarships and endowed teaching positions in universities. (“States Eyeing Novel Ways to Fund Higher Ed.,” Jan. 17, 2007.)
“Let’s vault over other states, until the world looks at the universities of Indiana with admiration and envy,” he said.
Mr. Daniels, who enjoyed a Republican-dominated statehouse in his first two years as governor, will have to deal with a divided legislature since Democrats won control of the House in the November elections.
Read a complete transcript of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ 2007 State of the State address. Posted by Indiana’s Office of the Governor.
A version of this article appeared in the January 24, 2007 edition of Education Week