Indiana legislative compromise could hurt Mitch Daniels 

During the heat of the battle between Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state's Democrats over union collective bargaining power, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, the possible GOP presidential candidate, came under fire from conservatives when he opposed efforts to push "right-to-work" legislation. At the time, Democratic legislators had just fled Indiana as their counterparts had in Wisconsin.

Daniels and his defenders made two basic arguments to conservative critics. First, that when it came to public sector unions, Daniels had already achieved in Indiana what Walker was attempting to do in Wisconsin. Second, if Republicans went to war with Democrats over "right-to-work" legislation, which would prevent workers from being forced to join unions in unionized businesses, it could endanger other priorities. In particular, education was supposed to be his signature legislative issue this year. Back in December, Daniels said of pushing for a "right-to-work" law, "I think it would have the potential — just tactically — to possibly reduce or wreck the chances for education reform and local government reform and criminal justice reform and the things we have a wonderful chance to do."

Today, as Dave Freddoso noted earlier, Democrats in Indiana's state House have returned, lured back by a series of concessions from Republicans. Among them, the Associated Press reports, "Republicans originally envisioned the largest voucher program in the nation, but later agreed to cap the program at 7,500 students in the first year and 15,000 in the second year."

Had Daniels been able to pass the more sweeping school choice reform, it may have helped to mitigate the frustration of conservatives over his decision to oppose "right-to-work" legislation in the current session. This compromise makes that task harder should he decide to seek the GOP nomination.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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