Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels knows his life will change when he leaves Indianapolis and heads north about 65 miles up I-65.
Monday, he begins his tenure as president at Purdue University.
Thursday he took about 40 minutes to talk to a handful of reporters on a conference call. The Pilot News was one of the news organizations invited.
“Almost everything is going to be different,” said Daniels of his new gig. “I just hope some of the same principles I learned in office apply.”
Daniels felt that his work in building a consensus at the statehouse will work at Purdue.
He was fairly noncommittal in terms of any agenda he may have at Purdue. But he did mention on several occasions looking at a trimester schedule.
He also touched on making higher education more affordable.
Daniels said by the state allowing state universities to operate with more freedom, the cost may be cut.
One way, Daniels said, is to allow universities to cut credit requirements thus allowing students to graduate in less than four years.
“Let the results decide the regulations,” said Daniels. He also took issue with the cumbersome regulations laid on universities by the state while funding by the state continues to go down.
In terms of successes while in office, Daniels named the state’s credit rating going from bankrupt to Triple-A rating as a top accomplishment.
“We tried to hunt big game every year,” said Daniels.
Daniels also lauded creating the “best business climate in the country”, building infrastructure, lowering property taxes and education reforms as some of the top accomplishments of his two-term administration.
Daniels did say that local government reform and improving health standards in the state were areas he felt his administration fell short.
Though Daniels did note smoking is down statewide.
While there weren’t as many sweeping reforms in local government after the release of the Kernan-Shepard Report, Daniels said the opportunity is still there.
Daniels pointed to the fact that the state has the fewest number of employees per capita combined with good service to citizens as a template for not only local government but for the federal government as well.
If the federal government were to take some of the steps Indiana has, it won’t be with Daniels in any role.
When asked if there was any scenario that he would get back into politics, Daniels said “really there is not.”
“I made a commitment to Purdue, “ said Daniels. “I plan to respect Purdue’s non-partisan stance. I’ll be leading a totally different life three days from now.”
Daniels was asked if he had a bucket list. While he didn’t, he said a western motorcycle trip may be in the future. Beside that, he said, his goal was just to stay healthy enough to be able to watch his young grandchildren graduate.