SO it suddenly turned out, late last week, that the state of Indiana, Mitchell E, Daniels, Micro Manager, has suddenly discovered $150 million it didn't think it had. Or, more accurately, which is to say accurately, it suddenly discovered that it thinks it might have $150 million it didn't think it had.
It should be noted that 99.9999% of Hoosiers did not actually discover the actual possible fact of this possible found money per se; rather, they discover it simultaneously with learning how Mitch Daniels was going to spend it, once the state legislature rubber-stamped another of his brainstorms.
Let's pause just a moment before the reveal to note, once again, that "Republican Libertarianism" is the facile Megachurch of our domestic politics. So long as you're shouting about Jebus you can just count the rake while getting away with anything that doesn't involve a dead hooker or a live boy. And I'm not absolutely certain that hasn't been raised to two dead hookers or live boys, or one of each.
Any road, $150 million. Taxpayer money, aka "seizure". In a state which has had to console itself with the fact that some of its neighbors are wearing shoes with even more holes in 'em; in a state which owes a couple billion to the Feds, give or take interest and penalties. But Mitch Daniels "finds" $150 million right on the eve of his Non-Candidacy becoming official, and he spends it before anybody knows it's gone, and without consulting the Mitch Daniels who insists that taxation is theft.
Full-day kindergarten. Indiana is one of a handful of states which don't offer it, and which don't even require kindergarten attendance.
There are two reasons why this state of affairs continues, but they haven't been getting much play in the media coverage: first, because when the previous Democratic governor pushed for it the Republicans in the General Assembly screamed bloody murder. Second, because when Candidate Daniels, who also pushed for it, became Governor Daniels the idea sorta fell by the wayside as incompatible with the bullshit line of budget-cutting being used to slash school budgets. Funding all-day kindergarten was a great idea in 2005, and a great idea today. The difference is not in funding; the difference is that in '05 Daniels wanted the PR aura of Deficit Slasher--to counteract the Huge Motherfucking Federal Debt he'd just brought about in two-and-a-half years--where the '11 Daniels needs to burnish the equally bullshitical reputation of the Budget Slasher Who Works Miracles Nonetheless.
Funding full-day kindergarten in 2005 would have meant admitting there were educational priorities the state wasn't meeting, even as it slashed budgets purely by mathematical formula to solve a "crisis". Which, of course, would also have admitted that we should be thinking before we started hacking, which would have been unwieldy in practice and apostasy in the pews.
[As always, the uninitiated should be made aware that in 2005 newly-minted Governor Daniels proposed a one-year surtax on incomes over $150,000 as a deficit-busting measure, and that this was retracted by sundown, apparently after the statehouse Republicans, and statewide Republican donors, inquired as to whether he'd enjoy seeing another sunrise.]
In 2011, though, Presidential Not-Candidate Daniels finds himself in shifting circumstances. He once looked like the robber baron's answer to Sarah Palin--and, again, I'm convinced the reasoning behind the Coyness Campaign--and Daniels was being Coy back when everyone expected the Republican race to begin officially by mid-2010, as recent experience suggested it would--is that Palin could have mopped the floor with anyone not under the official Teabagging Jebus tent--but now "Palin" means nothing more than "The Red Meat Right" which Daniels was going to have to deal with anyway. And beyond that, the shithouse rats, in the form of the Republican House, have taken over Mitch's nice gated community putting green. His bid got trumped. Then Trumped.
And, too, he found himself on the wrong side of the union-busting issue. Daniels doesn't want to do his dirty work in the glare of the spotlight; he wants to operate behind closed doors, then trumpet the story the way his people shape it. So his little hatchet man Superintentent Tony Bennett is suddenly at his side proposing we give the trades unionists more money to solve a problem. This once.
Daniels' PAC has been running Not Campaign ads non-stop, O brave new world! The latest feature two young teachers bemoaning the fact that they'll be laid off first even though they're clearly superior in their youthful exuberance, and their students all above average, thanks to their tender ministrations and non-union work ethic. And nobody asks why teachers should be getting laid off in the first place, or who might be the guy who could put a stop to it.
And it's not like the question hasn't been asked for the last six years. Daniels' Procrustian budget trimming has been objected to for a lot of reasons, but what's been done to education is the one with the most traction. He called last year's Special Session after there was a House/Senate compromise specifically to cut millions out of education and sock it in the artificial surplus wants on his resume for his next job interview. He's cut $300 million from education for the last two years, and now, now he finds $150 million and wants to use the biggest chunk of it to start a new program.
Me, I'm all for full-day kindergarten. I just think Remedial Math and Logic for Adults is the more pressing need.