Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

January 7, 2013

HAYDEN: Daniels left his mark with ‘freight train of change’

Governor embraced challenge ‘to serve everyone.'

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 in both 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 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 covers the Statehouse for CNHI newspapers in Indiana, including the Kokomo Tribune. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • DAN COATS: New Harmony marks its 200th anniversary Situated between St. Louis and Louisville, New Harmony is a small town in southwest Indiana smaller than 1 square mile in area. Fewer than 1,000 Hoosiers call this serene Posey County community home.Despite its size, the town has monumental significa

    July 31, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Let's put lethal injection to sleep

    It was only a matter of time before this happened again; and I’m sad to say I’m not surprised at all.
    On July 22, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the killing of Arizona death row inmate James R. Wood III, who had filed suit requesting a delay until the state revealed the details of the drugs that would be used to end his life.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • ANDREA NEAL: Fleeting canal era had lasting impact on state Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed to great fanfare. Cannon fire, parades, balls and speeches celebrated the speed and ski

    July 30, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Pence, Bayh crowd field with questions In the 2016 political landscape, a pair of the state's political big dogs -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh -- have potential candidates holding their breath and waiting on them. Until Pence says otherwise, he's

    July 29, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: All things Hillary are not news, just distractions This column has nothing to do with who should or will win the presidential election in 2016. It has nothing to do with partisan politics of any flavor. This column does, however, assess how television is oversaturating the "news" agenda with countles

    July 29, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: World is rising up to meet Putin's thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 28, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 28, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Happy marriages do not just happen My wife, Marylu, and I met through a mutual friend. My wife had been involved with Campus Crusade at her university, where my friend, Norman, also attended. One Christmas break, Norman invited his friends from church (including me) to a party — along

    July 27, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Truth about inflation Almost nothing in economics seems to confuse people as much as monetary inflation. That confusion leaves an intellectual void into which some of the least credible ideas of the modern world crawl.Goods and services typically have a price dictated in

    July 27, 2014

  • RAY DAY: Some laws will do us in In my opinion, we have made laws that are contrary to what they were intended. And this writer is going to let you in on his thoughts about them. One of the things that has been processed incorrectly is the child abuse law. When you tell the parent h

    July 26, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
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.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller