The administration of governor Ralph F. Gates of Indiana, 1945-1949
Ralph F. Gates was governor of Indiana from 1945 to 1949 when events following the end of World War II forced Hoosiers to make many crucial decisions concerning the role of state government. Gates was the first Republican governor of Indiana since the Depression and he was one of the few Hoosier governors to have effective majorities in two successive General Assemblies. This study analyzes the achievements of the Gates administration by focusing upon Gates' pledges in his 1944 campaign and his success in implementing those pledges.Campaign press releases and the 1944 Indianapolis newspapers identified the issues Gates had stressed during the campaign. Gates emphasized the need for state and federal cooperation in helping veterans adjust to peacetime conditions; industrial expansion to assure continued economic growth and prosperity; additional personnel and facilities for Indiana's public education and public health programs so as to furnish expanded services; and efficient and economic administration of state government.Official state documents furnished information concerning the achievements of the Gates administration. The single most important achievement in the area of veterans' affairs was the creation of the Department of Veterans' Affairs. This new state department helped approximately 300,000 Hoosier veterans adjust to civilian life.Several new state agencies encouraged industrial expansion and aided in providing jobs for the returning veterans. The Department of Commerce and Public Relations helped attract to Indiana 300 new industries which employed nearly 30,000 Hoosiers. A reorganized State Highway Commission spent $78,000,000 in three years to improve the state highway system. To help relieve the increasing congestion on the state's highways, the new Aeronautics Commission of Indiana sought to develop a state-wide system of aviation.Indiana's growth and prosperity was ultimately reliant upon a strong educational system. To help attract qualified teachers, the state's minimum salary schedule was amended so that a beginning teacher could earn $2,400 for a nine month school year. The state almost doubled its amount of local school support from $24,700,000 in 1943-1944 to $48,800,000 in 1947-1948. Local school districts were given additional powers of taxation. The State Board of Education was reorganized and given additional powers concerning textbook adoptions and federal school lunch programs. Finally, the state appropriated approximately $45,000,000 to help the four state colleges and universitiesprovide for increased enrollments.In the area of public health, the State Board of Health was reorganized and an Indiana Council for Mental Health was created. The licensing of all hospitals in the state was required for the first time and a coordinated plan for hospital construction was developed. Over $8,000,000 was appropriated to construct new public health facilities, and the establishment of full-time local health offices was encouraged through legislation authorizing adjacent counties or cities and counties to combine to offer full-time health offices.Although they increased state services, Gates and his Republican associates managed to keep the budget balanced by improving governmental efficiency and raising taxes on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes. His achievements establish that Gates did indeed accomplish what he had pledged in the areas of veterans' affairs, economic readjustment, public education, public health, and fiscal and administrative affairs.