Why I Opposed Right to Work Legislation in Indiana This Year

[Editor’s Note: I wrote to Governor Daniels yesterday explaining that he’d riled up quite a few folks here at Ricochet and asked him if he’d like to explain his decision to oppose the right to work bill that was proposed by the Republican legislature in his state.  I didn’t expect to hear back right away from a man who’d just had shoulder surgery, had to contend with Democrats walking out of his legislature, and was preparing to fly to Washington for the National Governors’ Association annual meeting, but –lo!– he wrote right back. Below, his response as e-mailed to me. –Diane Ellis, Ed.]

Diane, I’ve explained myself in the home state press for weeks, but since you asked:

Here in Indiana we have a very extensive 2011 agenda that these critics, if they took the time to look, would strongly applaud: another no-tax budget, an automatic refund to taxpayers past a specified level of state reserves, sweeping reform of archaic and anti-taxpayer local government, reduction of the corporate income tax, and the most far-reaching reform of education in America, including statewide vouchers for low and moderate income families.  We laid all this before the public during last year’s elections.

Into this a few of my allies chose to toss Right to Work (RTW).  I suggested studying it for a year and developing the issue for next year.  No one had campaigned on it; it was a big issue that hit the public cold.  I was concerned that it would provide the pretext for radical action by our Democratic minority that would jeopardize the entire agenda above, with zero chance of passing RTW itself.  And that is exactly what has happened.

We’re not giving up on the agenda we ran on, but this mistake presents a significant obstacle.  RTW never had a chance this year and now the task is to make sure that it doesn’t take a host of good government changes down with it.

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