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Gov. Daniels: Community newspapers are importantPosted Friday, June 26, 2009, at 4:32 PM
It's always an interesting and informative talk every time I've had the opportunity to sit down with Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Wednesday morning was no exception when I and two representatives of sister newspapers -- The Brazil Times and the Greencastle Banner-Graphic -- were able to chat with the governor at length at a small restaurant in Brazil.
Among the topics he wanted to talk to us about was our own newspaper industry.
The governor inquired about "business" at each of our daily newspaper operations -- saying he felt strongly that a local community newspaper serves a vital function in the operation of state and county government.
Daniels also feels communities in the Hoosier state would suffer much if their newspapers went away.
He expressed concern about a growing number of large metropolitan newspapers that have folded in the last year.
"Every time I get around a bunch of newspaper people I always go into my lament that this would be a much less of a successful country, in my opinion, if newspapers fade out. There is nothing in the new technology that fully replaces them," he said.
"Young people need to read and understand. Right now, this country is spending our children's future at an unbelievable rate. If there is anybody who ought to be reading and thinking and getting a little better informed, it's young people. We really need them to read. If our newspaper readership keeps withering away, it's really not a good thing."
The governor was touring the state talking about the special session of the Indiana General Assembly which has a sole purpose of passing a budget.
Daniels is not happy that a common sense budget hasn't been passed and wasn't shy about lashing out at the Democrat-controlled House and more particular targeting Speaker of the House Pat Bauer with his wrath.
In simple terms, the two sides -- and I mean two political factions -- need to get together and find some common ground in their respective budget proposal before midnight Tuesday or state government services could be shut down.
That isn't likely to happen, but the possibility looms.
There are three possible options.
* Pass a compromise budget that both Democrats and Republicans can live with and the governor will sign.
* Pass a continuing resolution that would allow the state to continue to operate on the current 2009 budget appropriations for another year.
* Shut down state government.
Daniels said he can't imagine that the House Democrat Caucus -- headed by Bauer -- will want to shut down state government.
"I can't believe they (the Democrats) want to walk the plank as the people who shut down the (state) parks on the Fourth of July and the license branches," Daniels said.
The governor said he's given the House and the Senate a lot of room to come up with a workable budget -- requiring only that the budget that he signs has no tax increases; keeps $1 billion in savings as protection; and has no gimmicks.
Aside from the budget, the governor talked about jobs, county government, getting a handle on school expenses and the new Hoosier Youth Conservation Corps program started with federal stimulus funds.
Through the Youth Conservation Corps program, in the next two years about 3,000 unemployed youth 18-26 years of age will be hired to restore natural outdoor habitats, clearing or building trails and working on repair crews assigned to state parks.
Daniels also says to expect his office to submit a new proposal during the next General Assembly session for streamlining and making county government more efficient.
The idea didn't get very far last session, but Daniels said he would like to see some kind of legislation passed.
The governor's recommendations will be similar to those issued by the bipartisan commission, appointed by Daniels and co-chaired by former Gov. Joe Kernan and Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, in 2007 that issued 27 recommendations for overhauling Indiana's system of local offices that has remained essentially unchanged since the 1851 state constitution.
Among the proposals that are likely to get another airing on the legislative floor in 2010, according to Daniels, are: Replacing the three county commissioners with one elected county executive; expansion of the legislative duties of the county council, making several currently elected department heads -- treasurer, coroner, surveyor, assessor -- appointees.
If passed, that could change the way things are done here in Greene County and when you think about it, it might be a welcome change.
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