INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence declared Wednesday he is not, and will not become, the state's "legislator-in-chief," shrugging off critics who claim he should be more directly engaged in House and Senate action.
The Republican governor, who took office Jan. 14, told reporters during a meeting in his Statehouse office that there are issues he's working with legislators on, primarily employment and education matters, but he isn't following every proposal moving through the General Assembly.
"On an ongoing basis there's going to be a broad range of legislative initiatives that we won't have much to say about unless they get to that desk," said Pence, pointing to his office workspace.
That's a major change from his predecessor, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, whose staff had their fingers in seemingly every legislative proposal — bending and shaping measures well before they reached the governor for him to sign into law or veto.
Pence said he simply has a different style of executive leadership.
He said his focus is limited to the six goals listed in his Roadmap for Indiana— increasing private-sector employment, attracting new investment, improving math and reading skills, increasing graduation rates, improving workforce quality and improving the health, safety and well-being of Hoosier families.
"The goals are fixed, but we are very open to proposals that we believe also advance those goals to be brought to us from the General Assembly or from people across Indiana," Pence said.
Last week House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, complained that Pence hasn't clearly identified which legislative proposals match his Roadmap goals and what other proposals are likely to get signed into law.
Pence half-responded to Pelath's request Wednesday by issuing an updated Roadmap that links the 49 Pence policy proposals to executive orders or specific House and Senate bills under consideration by the Legislature.