Republican Jeff Colyer closed more than a decade of public service Monday exuding pride in his one year as Kansas governor and excited about career options in the private sector and a potential campaign for U.S. Senate.

Colyer, who served in the House and Senate before elected lieutenant governor under Sam Brownback, was an observer for the inauguration of Democrat Laura Kelly on the Capitol's south steps. He experienced a comparable indoor ceremony Jan. 31 after Brownback's resignation, and became the 47th governor.

"I never, ever had a bad day as governor. Can't say that about any other job. This has been fantastic," Colyer said in an interview during his final hour as governor. "We've got a tremendous amount done in the last year. Clearly, we changed the tone."

Colyer said Kansas was on a solid foundation, pointing to a relatively low unemployment rate of 3.2 percent and the record number of people employed. The rural economy is showing sparks of small-business growth, he said. The state has a projected balance of $900 million built largely from sales tax hikes signed by Brownback and income tax increases the Legislature forced on the GOP administration.

The number of Kansas abortions has declined and adoptions in the state increased by more than 1,000 during the year, Colyer said. He also brought new leadership to the Kansas Department for Children and Families, which faced bipartisan criticism for inconsistent care for abused or neglected children.

Colyer said he signed the bill investing $500 million in public schools to move the state closer to ending the latest constitutional challenge before the Kansas Supreme Court.

"We dealt with the school finance issues and we're on a path to a solution to that. This is something that has plagued the last 10 governors. Laura Kelly will be the 11th," Colyer said.

Colyer, 58, said he was weighing the possibility of a campaign for U.S. Senate in the wake of Sen. Pat Roberts' decision not to seek re-election in 2020. Colyer, an unsuccessful GOP candidate for U.S. House in 2002, said the choice would be a collaborative effort with his wife, Ruth, and their children.

"When I do things, we look at it very professionally. We put it on the table. If we run, we're running to win," Colyer said. "Kansas needs a senator who has the gravitas that Pat Roberts did, that has the willingness to listen to people, deal with ag issues and with international issues, have experience of being part of the real world of jobs and how to make things happen in D.C. You're there to make a difference, but not make a lot of noise."

He said there were opportunities to continue working in medicine and he expected to remain part of the International Medical Corps, perhaps traveling later this year to Yemen.

Former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who left office to work for President Barack Obama, said she was inspired by Kelly's election.

"We have a whole new chapter," said Sebelius, who worked on behalf of the Kelly campaign. "We're the only state in the country to ever elect three Democratic women governors."

Wichita teenager Jack Bergeson, who campaigned for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018, said ascendancy of Kelly was a sign Kansans prefer to move beyond Brownback and Colyer.

"Walking in the Capitol today, I had a feeling of hope about my state I've not felt in my political life," he said.

On his way out as governor, following tradition, Colyer left a personal note for Kelly. He didn't disclose the contents, but said the new governor ought to seek advice of ordinary and extraordinary Kansans.

"Listen to everyone," he said. "You've got to listen to all Kansans. They have a lot to say. They have great ideas."

Colyer said the Capitol physically changed since his arrival in 2007 as a state representative from Johnson County. The building's $300 million renovation is complete. A statute of former President Dwight Eisenhower stands on the north lawn. The third floor features a mural of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.

With one of his daughters, Serena, Colyer walked to the top of the Statehouse dome a final time.

"We did the 296 steps. It's really our favorite place in the whole building," Colyer said. "I love this state. It's a great place. We don't always give ourselves enough credit."