News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 8, 2013

STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Mitch Daniels has been a change agent

INDIANAPOLIS — Love him or hate him, there’s one area of consensus on the soon-to-be departing Gov. Mitch Daniels: He transformed Indiana state government in ways few of his predecessors ever did.

In 2004, he was the first Republican in 16 years to take the governor’s office, and he wasted little time firing up what he called a “freight train of change.”

One of his first acts in office was to sign an executive order doing away with collective bargaining for state employees. One of the big pieces of legislation he signed into law in his final year in office was the right-to-work bill that bars labor contracts from requiring non-union members to pay union dues.

There was much more in between than room in this column to list. He pushed for the property tax caps that are locked into Indiana law; championed the creation of the nation’s largest voucher program that gives low-income parents public dollars to put their children in private schools; outsourced the Indiana toll road and the welfare system to private entities; and changed our clocks when he shoved the state onto daylight saving time.

Brian Howey, longtime chronicler of Indiana politics and publisher of Howey Indiana Politics, has described — with more much eloquence than I can muster — how transformative Daniels has been both in politics and governing.

In the forward he wrote for a book that contains excerpts from speeches Daniels made over 22 years, Howey lists Daniels among the 10 governors in Indiana’s almost 200-year history who were true change agents.

Given how we cautious, conservative, stubborn Hoosiers tend to loathe change, that’s a big deal.

“Whether you regard him as a hero or adversary, few Hoosiers will argue the notion that his eight years at the Indiana Statehouse have been impactful and have altered the trajectory of the state at a time when just about everything is changing on a global scale,” Howey wrote.

Daniels officially leaves office when Republican Gov.-elect Mike Pence is sworn in on Jan. 14. Daniels’ impact has been, and will be, measured in so many ways — with praise and disparagement.

For me, part of the measure will include a small moment I witnessed in August, when Daniels welcomed a group of Muslims who came to pray in the Indiana Statehouse.

They were there at Daniels’ invitation. In his first year in office, Daniels started the tradition of the Governor’s Iftar Dinner as an annual event conducted during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

As the event began, I saw a young college student approach Daniels to introduce himself. What was so touching about it, as I later wrote, was the fact that the young man was an immigrant from war-torn Syria, born in a country now governed by a ruler who wouldn’t think twice about killing him.

Yet on that August evening, he was chatting warmly with Daniels, who is the grandson of Syrian immigrants, and who is an evangelical Christian who’s served two presidents in the White House.

The young man left the encounter saying Daniels inspired him. “He makes me want to do something good with my life,” he told me.

Daniels left the encounter saying he how pleased he was that the dinner had become such a tradition. “Since the beginning, I’ve been conscious of the imperative to serve everyone,” Daniels said, “people of all faiths and people with no faith at all.”

Maureen Hayden is the Indiana Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Human Antidepressants Making Shrimp Too Calm Swiss Unveil New Solar Plane for Global Flight Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions NASA Releases Images of "graceful" Solar Flare Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War"
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity