Governor Mitch Daniels has brought monumental, and not always popular, change to Indiana during his eight years in office.
There was the adoption of daylight saving time, property tax reform, the Toll Road lease, and school vouchers just to name a few.
The Governor has overseen a lot of dramatic changes in public policy. But he's most proud of changing Indiana’s public image.
Mitch Daniels has done a lot of traveling during his two terms as Governor, but he has done very little driving.
“But it's you've heard about that car that only gets driven to church?” says Governor Mitch Daniels. “That's basically my car. So it’s about to come out of the barn.”
And why not? There are, now, so many more roads to drive on. Thanks to Daniels’s $3.8 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road,
And his Major Moves Program, it's hard to believe the last of that cash is due to be spent in the 2016 budget.
“You know among the many oh, I’ll just say amusing things folks occasionally still say is oh my gosh, the money will be gone,” says Daniels. “I go, no it won't, it's you're standing on it, driving on it, your kid may have a business, a job in a business that locates next to it. We didn’t take the money and spend it on today, we put it, we bought public assets that the state would never have owned, the people would never have owned that will be there forever.”
It's just one bold example of how Daniels dramatically changed public policy, after public policy. In an effort to tackle, what he called, Indiana's inferiority complex.
“I think of ours as an era in which Indiana shook off its reputation as a standstill stick in the mud state and became a national leader in a lot of ways,” says Daniels.
Even the very way, in which Daniels did what he did, was different.
For instance, whenever he went on the road, he slept in the private homes of everyday Hoosiers, not in hotels.
When it came time to have his official portrait done, Daniels became the first Indiana Governor to pose without a coat.
“He was trying to show action orientation somebody who was at work for the people of Indiana someone who was approachable and accessible, not full of himself, and someone everybody could get at and talk to,” said Daniels.
Daniels has done his fair share of mixing it up. Whether campaigning from his RV, or riding his Harley. As a result, he hopes people are less cynical of government, and he hopes he has helped instill an ongoing desire for change among the general populace.
“My fondest hope is that in future years if it’s a new year and whoever, is governor or in the legislature doesn't have anything significant to suggest, to use people will go well, is that all you've got?” explains Daniels.
Mitch Daniels already has his next job lined up; he'll be the president of Purdue University.