Tax Cuts Sure, But What About Gary Gov. Daniels?

As if the City of Gary - and all its incredible problems and opportunities - simply didn't exist, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels recently delivered a breezy 2008 State of the State Address trumpeting just how good life apparently is at the Crossroads of America.

Unemployment is down. Investment and job creation up. Government is more nimble, fiscally prudent, and responsive. The State of Indiana is sitting on a big budget surplus. It now ranks favorably - both nationally and regionally - across several measures of economic competitiveness. And even the line at the BMV moves faster.

The next order of business, the governor said after deriding the fiscal troubles of neighboring Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois, is the largest tax cut in state history.

"My fondest hope for this era in which we live is that we are becoming a braver Indiana," the governor said in his closing statement. "Unafraid of competition, unafraid of new ideas, unafraid of change. And always brave in the attempt to take long steps for big goals like fairness, ownership, and economic security, goals that property tax reduction would serve."

But Gov. Daniels wasn't brave enough to talk about Gary, the black eye of Lake Michigan. He also chose not to layout an agenda that aims to see that city, Indiana's fifth largest, share in the state's apparently historic prosperity.

More investment than ever is pouring into the state, according to the governor, yet downtown Gary -like parts of Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and several other Great Lakes cities - looks like the pictures beamed back to the nightly news from Baghdad.

Yet few people seem to care. Steel and scorched Earth is all we've known about Gary for 100 years. So why should the next 100 be any different. Let's just ignore it.

Meanwhile, pile after pile of research argues that vibrant cities - particularly those with clean accessible waterfronts like the one Gary has buried beneath the slurry - enjoy the upper hand in what's poised to be the most prosperous era the world has ever known.