MUNCIE, Indiana – Every state leader wants to see their residents happy so they’ll want to stay and raise their families. While Governor Mike Pence denies, or plays coy, about his plans to run for president in 2016, his actions tell a different story. He’s almost trying too hard to get the attention of the Oligarchs who finance GOP political campaigns. The problem is while his public relations staff is branding one image, the cold hard facts tell another story.
Gallup just released a poll asking people, “Regardless of whether you will move, if you had the opportunity, would you like to move to another state, or would you rather remain in your current state?””
The evidence, once again, flies in the face of reality.
Nevertheless, Governor Mike Pence spends a lot of time touting his policies on creating a pro-business environment. Recently, in an article for the Washington Examiner, reporter Sean Higgins wrote, “Pence, who personally witnessed the federal government’s economic dysfunction up close for 10 years as a congressman, explained to the Washington Examiner how states like his own are “blazing a trail … for economic freedom.”
“Economic freedom” is a passionate buzzword surely to get the attention of billionaire libertarians like the Koch brothers. It’s fascinating, most people when most public servants are speaking of “freedoms” in this country, they are referring to people.
Not so with Mr. Pence.
Mike tells the reporter, “I’ll give you a couple of data points. Since the passage of our right-to-work legislation, 120 companies have communicated with our economic development team that our enactment to right-to-work would factor into their decision-making.”
And, we thought “right-to-work” legislation was to improve the “economic freedom” of the individual, but Mike immediately uses a corporate anecdote to make his case. Also, using anecdotal evidence is a far cry from discussing “data-points”.
He goes on to explain how over half of the companies accepted their offers and are relocating to Indiana as proof his policies are making things better for Hoosiers. Actually, as we’ve all learned by now, or at least readers of Muncie Voice, the only ones benefiting from Mike’s governing are businesses looking for free economic candy (incentives), his corporate campaign contributors, and Mike Pence.
The results of his policies are negatively impacting quality of life issues plaguing much of Indiana in general: U.S.’s most dirtiest states; poor health and wellness; crumbling infrastructures; lagging personal incomes, etc.
Anyway, back to the Gallup poll – where did Indiana rank?
As it turns out, we rank In the top ten states of people wanting to leave, and one point behind Louisiana and Mississippi. Of the Hoosiers polled, 38% responded to the above question as “We’d like to move now”. Only 10 states had higher percentages of residents wanting to move. Gallup said they will be doing more migration studies to see where people are wanting to go if given the opportunity.
So, the real “economic freedom” Gov. Pence is creating with his policies are the freedom of Hoosiers wanting to leave the state. Our reality, and what our governor’s perception of reality, are two opposing realities. We’ve pointed this out and so has Indiana Democrats.
After spending some time in meetings throughout Muncie the past several months, we have a recommendation for our governor – take off your suit and tie off, and hang out in Muncie for a few weeks. Give your staff vacation time…cut the public relation stunts on Fox News. Quit speaking at ALEC events. Stay off the speaking tour in North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.. Quit traveling to Germany. Remember, “You’re not considering a presidential run in 2016, so these PR visits aren’t important.”
Abandon them all, and come hang out in Muncie, Indiana – Middletown, USA.
However, don’t schedule your usual visits to accepting senior citizen facilities or pose for a photo-op at a local business shaking hands – quit the professional political marketing stunts, and attend meetings and talk to the leaders in the community.
For instance, at a Muncie Redevelopment Commission meeting yesterday, we learned about all the commercial and retail projects being planned in our community. We heard about 15 newly planned bike paths, and trails connecting cultural amenities and other places of significance. A trail winding through campus and connecting to the bike trail. New airport developments. Roads and paths leading from the University Village to River Road and connecting to the White River Trails. Rebuilding Madison Street with accessible sidewalks. Downtown hotels and meeting space.
Why is all this happening in Muncie? #OneMuncie
Business investors and developers want to see a community invest in itself to improve the quality of life for ALL people. As Mayor Dennis Tyler said after updating MRC members about all the above happenings in Muncie, “For developers and investors, it matters!”
We know it matters for residents who’ve seen little or no improvements to our infrastructure for decades.
You see Governor Pence, not every corporate executive is looking to take advantage of workers and our environment. Smart executives are wanting to build and invest in communities where they see potential for growth, collaboration, and a government that works with businesses to create quality places for residents to live and work. The working idea is one where both the public and private sectors are working together to create better lives for residents.
We know this runs contrary to Gov. Pence’s philosophy of using the public sector to create all the advantages for business at the expense of the workers, which is why we are strongly encouraging that he come to Muncie and spend a couple of weeks learning from leaders in our community. When you create the kind of pro-business environment demonstrated by Mike’s policies over the past year, you get results like we just saw from Gallup – being ranked in the top ten for residents wanting to leave your state.