Financial stability: Came into office with $6.2 billion deficit, but left with a $1.5 billion surplus and record budget reserves.
Education: Increased E-12 education spending by $2 billion, including broadening free, all-day kindergarten and expanding prekindergarten program for the neediest children.
Development: The governor's administration took the lead in development of the Minnesota Vikings stadium and a dramatic, long-term redevelopment plan for Rochester.
Marriage: In May 2013, Dayton signed a bill making Minnesota the first state in the Midwest to legalize same-sex marriage by legislative action.
Capitol restoration: The $309 million Capitol restoration covered virtually every inch of the 113-year old structure, from reinforcing subterranean footings to the newly gilded finial on top of the Capitol's dome. Workers repaired more than 26,000 pieces of marble, 242 historic windows and restored 57 murals.
Education: Despite all the new money, achievement gaps between white students and children of color persisted.
Government technology woes: Dayton called the rollout of the state-created health insurance exchange his "biggest disappointment." The state also spent a decade and budgeted $97 million to replace its 30-year-old licensing system with MNLARS, but almost immediately after the rollout, offices around the state were reporting regular system slowdowns and logging a growing list of problems.
Partisan acrimony: A three-week partial state government shutdown in 2011 highlighted the fractured relationship between Dayton and GOP legislators. In 2017, Dayton was so miffed at Republican lawmakers that he vetoed the budget for their salaries and staff. The conflict ended up in court.