Sen. Coats says Indiana should be model for US

The Associated Press, By Deanna Martin

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats said Indiana has become a fiscal model under the leadership of fellow Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Coats and Daniels met at the Indiana Statehouse on Monday for their first chat since Coats took office, then talked with reporters as they sat in armchairs near the fireplace in the governor's office. Coats said Daniels has taken steps to put Indiana in a much better financial position than most of the states in the country as the recession ravaged state budgets.

Coats said Indiana should be a model as federal leaders look for ways to get the country in better financial condition.

"I'm grateful to the governor for the example that he's set," Coats said. "I'm grateful to the people of Indiana for supporting that."

Daniels said Coats shares his views on getting the federal government to live within its means.

"Coats was cheap before it was cool in terms of taxpayer dollars," Daniels said.

Daniels said the people of Indiana have supported — and demanded — fiscally sound policies. He said that makes him optimistic that the American people will support ways to rein in deficits and reduce the country's ballooning debt.

"What we've done here can be done elsewhere," Daniels said.

Daniels has pushed for state budgets that spend no more than they take in. As state revenues plummeted below expectations in the current budget cycle, Daniels slashed millions of dollars from state agencies, public schools and universities.

Daniels was recently named one of three winners of a new "Fiscy Award" for responsible financial stewardship and fiscal discipline in government. The award is given by a committee that includes officials from the Comeback America Initiative, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the Concord Coalition.

Daniels has been touted as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012. The former federal budget director for President George W. Bush and top White House aide to Ronald Reagan has said for months that he has made no plans to run for president. He has agreed to keep the door open and says he'll announce a decision after the Indiana General Assembly wraps up its legislative session in late April.