U.S. Senate candidate Joe Donnelly talked jobs and education Monday during a campaign visit to Richmond.
Donnelly, a Democrat from Mishawaka, is running in the Nov. 6 election against Republic Richard Mourdock to replace Richard Lugar as one of Indiana’s senators. Donnelly is a three-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana’s Second District.
“My approach would be to bring what I think is common sense leadership to our seat in the senate. We have a tradition of that here,” Donnelly said while speaking to members of the Palladium-Item editorial board Monday morning.
He said his plan for job creation is to support education throughout the state, foster a business-friendly climate, continue support for infrastructure, work toward a free and fair international trade system, especially with China, and to spend down the national budget.
“We have to get the budget deficit under control,” he said. “It’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen within the next year. It can be forced or it can be done through a thoughtful planned-out program as we move forward. I would favor the planned-out approach.
“For job creation, education is critical, and that’s where we need programs like we have at Ivy Tech (Community College),” he said. “That program has been such a huge plus across the state.”
Donnelly said the deficit can be cut in part by asking every department head in the federal government to cut their budgets by 10 percent.
“We will try to wring every dollar out of the budget that we can. If the department head is not smart enough to do it, then we will help them,” he said.
Donnelly said he supports charter schools and the current effort to turn more control of schools from the federal government over to state and local officials. He also opposes the No Child Left Behind program introduced by President George W. Bush.
“I believe making it as much local as possible is essential and makes the most sense,” Donnelly said. “I think the federal government has some role in funding education, and we have to try to ensure that every child gets a good education. But my belief is we’re better off when we put our faith in the state and local folks.”
He disagrees with the Obama Administration in its opposition to the proposed Keystone Pipeline, which would connect the U.S. to Canada’s booming oil shale production. The Obama Administration said the pipeline is not in the country’s best interest.
“I think the president is wrong. I have been a strong supporter of that project for a long time,” he said. “It will produce additional fuel for our region, create thousands of jobs and I think it is a national security issue.
“Any time we’re getting a barrel of oil from North Dakota or Canada we’re a lot better off than getting a barrel of oil from Libya or anywhere else in the Middle East,” he said.
He also supports continued production of ethanol from Midwestern corn crops.
“It has dramatically increased farmers’ income and has been a huge help to them,” Donnelley said. “It creates American energy here in our country, is a renewable fuel and has created additional economic strength for Indiana.”
Donnelly pledged to carry on the independent, yet conciliatory approach of previous Indiana U.S. senators such as Lugar and Evan Bayh.
“I’m much more naturally a workhorse than a showhorse,” he said. “I never worry about the politics. I’m a Democrat on the ballot, but I’m a Hoosier and an American. Party labels don’t move our country forward.
“What moves our country forward is people working together.”