Governor Charles H. Martin's Administration
Governor's Message, 1939
Source: MESSAGE Of Governor Charles H. Martin To the Fortieth Legislative Assembly At Salem, Oregon 1939
To the Honorable President and Members of the Senate and to the Honorable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives of the 40th Legislative Assembly:
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here today in this new and beautiful capitol and to appear before you at this historic session for the final accounting of my stewardship of the past four years.
Although I am retiring from the official position of Governor, I want you all to know that I will continue to work to the utmost of my ability for the best interests of the state and all of the fine people who have made Oregon one of the most progressive commonwealths of the American Union—a state that lives up to its creed and really flies with her own wings. On completion of this ceremony I will proudly take my place in the ranks of our citizenry to labor with them for maintenance, preservation and advancement of the American principles upon which we have grown so great. I can do no less to show my appreciation for the honor bestowed on me by our people.
From the standpoint of fiscal operation, the state of Oregon occupies a most favorable position in its ability to march forward in economic development. During my administration the bonded debt load has been reduced from $52,626,610 to $42,041,935, or more than ten and a half million dollars. This is the lowest the bonded debt has been in the last two decades. The prompt and effective service of debt has resulted in material improvement in the state’s credit standing, so that today prime Oregon bonds bring premiums of form 115 to 120, depending upon the date of maturity. This is the best credit position the state has ever had.
For the second time the state tax on real property has been eliminated. The tax was eliminated from the 1938 levy and will not be imposed in 1939. In this I have fulfilled my pledge to bring relief to the sorely pressed taxpayers of this state. This has been accomplished in spite of an extensive building program, which included the capitol, the new library and structures at the various institutions.
For consideration of the Legislative Assembly I have prepared the Ninth Biennial Budget estimates on the fundamental principle of keeping expenditures within the revenues available under the law. This budget provides amply for operation of states activities in all phases, and will insure rendering effective service to our citizens, even though certain capital expansions have been disapproved.
Authorization of expenditures beyond the total reflected in these estimates will necessitate either the discovery of new sources of revenue or a departure from the sound business practice of pay-as-you-go and launching forth on the treacherous policy of incurring debt for current operating expenses.
The soundness of Oregon’s fiscal position lies in its unimpaired credit, which will be available in the event of grave and unavoidable emergency, and the practice of meeting obligations when due.
So far as I can see there is on need to burden our people with additional taxes and thereby divert funds that would otherwise be available for development of our resources and increasing our income level from that of a raw material producing area to that of the finished products, with resulting raising of the income received by our people.
In preparation of the budget estimates every effort was made to provide amply for the state services designed to aid in promoting the economic development of our area for the benefit of all of our people.
By their mandate in the November election the people of the state made it clear they do not want additional taxes, that they are willing to tighten up their belts and operate within the means available.
One of the most vexatious problems to confront you will be that of relief and the allied aids given under the social security provisions of our law. The budget submitted calls for expenditure of $21,953,121 for the biennium, as compared with $14,975,576 for the past two-year period. This is an increase of approximately 50 per cent.
While we will not and cannot permit any of our people to starve or suffer from want, the mounting toll of public money for so small a fraction of our population, about 5 per cent, must be viewed with grave concern. Our thought and effort must be directed toward a solution of this problem lest our substance become exhausted.
With the exception of Multnomah County, where political expediency occupies the saddle and where the millage has reached an all-time high, the county courts and commissions’ o the state have shown a fine spirit of cooperation and aid in the relief problem. They have budgeted sufficient funds to carry on the necessary work and with due regard to the taxpayer who is footing the bill.
In Multnomah county the voters clearly expressed their will against additional tax funds for relief while the funds available were being used for other purposes. This is something for members of the Legislature to ponder upon.
Effort has been made to build up support for a plan to dump more of the relief burden on the state. You all know that stat money comes from the same sources as other public money—from the people, so it is difficult to understand what would be gained by merely shifting the cost relief from one pocket to the other. Furthermore, we all know that when responsible officials are charged with expenditure of their own funds those funds are administered with greater wisdom and efficiency than when the money “belongs to somebody else”. That is the prime reason why the ratio of relief burden must be maintained.
You have heard much about the niggardliness of Oregon in the matter of relief. Let me call your attention to the fact that Federal Social Security Board in September, 1938, rated Oregon in 14th place for the average amount of old age assistance paid to each beneficiary and in 15th place in the amount paid for direct relief. Federal statistics also show Oregon occupying 34th place in the amount of internal revenue collected, which indicates the ability to pay. With these figures as evidence one can only say that the spreaders of this so-called “niggardly payments” propaganda are either ignorant or actuated by political ambitions that include no regard for the truth.
In solving the relief problem we must not be swept off our feet by sloppy sentimentality, for that would be the ruination of all our people. We must face facts and deal with them courageously. We must exert our efforts toward building our state and insuring the economic welfare of our people through providing work in the development of our resources.
Allied to the problem of relief and its solution through sound economic development is the problem of labor disorder that has been prevalent in Oregon since May 1934. One of the causes of the increase in the relief load has been the unemployment of our workers resulting from strikes dictated by the labor racketeers and gangsters who would feather their own nests at the expense of the workers they are supposed to aid. Most of these strikes have been against the wishes of the majority of the union members, who have been forced to strike by brutal coercion and intimidation.
This labor vandalism, directed by false leaders who are made for power and money, has not only resulted in loss of employment and pay for thousands of loyal and patriotic union workers but has also brought a reign of violence into our community that cannot be tolerated and injury to our industries that cannot be calculated at this time. Suffice it to say that the money loss runs into the millions, and has given Oregon the doubtful honor of being the highest in matter of unemployment of all the states in the Union.
In a sincere effort to prevent recurrence of such racketeering and gangsterism and to free the laboring man from the greed and tyranny of the selfish overlords who wax3ed rich and powerful on the dues collected from the members, the people of this state enacted at the last general election a labor regulation bill. This measure is sound in principle. Its soundness has been amply demonstrated by its successful operation in Great Britain and Canada, for the Oregon act is the same act, with minor changes in wording to fit our Oregon system of government.
This bill was enacted by a majority of approximately 50,000 and is a clarion mandate that our people do not propose to tolerate the continuance of such deplorable conditions, which ultimately lead to a racketeer dictatorship or anarchy. By the very wording of the act the people signified their approval of the rights of legitimate labor union activities, and an intention to defend those rights with all of the power of law. They did place a bar on the maintenance of power by the racketeers and gangsters through violence and intimidation. The act is really a Magna Carta for labor.
For this reason the act should not be amended until it has been given a proper test by actual execution and administration. The necessity for this is demonstrated by the continued efforts of the gangster leaders and racketeers who have fattened off the unions to have the act repealed, nullified or amended so as to give them loopholes to continue their campaign of sack and loot.
You are all familiar with the recent goon prosecutions. You all know that officials of a union, imposed on the membership by the overlord Beck, have been convicted of the whole gamut of crimes from simple assault and battery through bombing and arson, and that the leaders have diverted to their own use the funds provided by the membership dues. Remember that Al Rosser and 18 other union officials paid the tax and penalties for unreported personal incomes without protest. In fact they couldn’t grab their pens and check books fast enough when the officials of the state tax commission appeared in their offices. Honest men do not act in this manner.
All of this proves that these racketeering union leaders are not contrite and are not willing to abide by the mandate of the people. They do not want to give up the rich sources of wealth and power they have seized. They wish a return to the days of unrestricted and unreported boodle.
The labor regulation act was passed to correct a situation and to aid the state in going ahead. To recede from that position would strengthen the labor racketeers and gangsters and give them license to impose their reign of terror on every citizen. Any weakening of the act would betray the thousands of sincere and truly American union members and their wives who voted for its passage.
In this matter the people have spoken in a most decisive manner—and remember that under our system of government the “voice of the people is the voice of God”, for all of our governmental power and authority springs from the people, not from powerful and sinister minorities.
Under my administration several achievements for the benefit of Oregon’s future have been made. Among these are completion of the five major bridges on the Coast highway; improvement of highways throughout the state and especially in Eastern Oregon; completion of the new capitol and state library building; organization of the board of geology and mineral industries; establishment of effective budgetary control to provide constant supervision over expenditures; progress in the Willamette Valley project; provision for participation in the Golden Gate Exposition at San Francisco; establishment of processing plants for the flax growers at Canby, Springfield and Mt. Angel; prompt relief to fire-stricken Bandon and reseeding of the 16,000 burned-over acres by airplane; improvement of the game fish and animal stock of the state; promotion of tourist traffic; establishment of sound grazing policy for Eastern Oregon range lands and reorganization of the land board; reduction of utility rates which will bring annually recurring savings in excess of $1,500,000 to rate payers; reduction of the old-ago assistance age from 70 to 65 years; creation of the commission for the blind and the prevention of blindness, which has expanded its services throughout the state; enactment and execution of the unemployment compensation act; extension of service in aiding and promoting marketing of state products of the farm; establishment of forest works camps for parolees from the penitentiary; a sound policy of reforestation and progress in solution of the problem of taxation on timberlands; establishment of a commission for the preservation of Oregon’s shrine at Champoeg; inauguration of the state planning board; establishment of a permanent berth for historic Battleship Oregon; and establishment of a bureau of marketing under the state board of higher education.
In closing I wish to commend to your attention the following recommendations in addition to those relating to taxes, labor and relief:
Enactment of laws which will more closely coordinate the fiscal system by making the fiscal and appropriative years coincide, which can be attained by making the regular 24-month appropriation and a supplemental appropriation for the six-month period from 31 December, 1940, to 30 June, 1941, and by clarifying the definitions of budgetary categories.
Enactment of basic laws for reform of the probation, parole and sentencing system. In this connection I particularly wish to commend the splendid report of my special commission on this important subject.
Consideration of the various uniform laws drafted by the uniform code commissioners and not yet enacted in Oregon, such as the uniform acts on aeronautics, bills of lading, conditional sales and so on.
Consideration of a long-term building program for the various state institutions to the end they may be properly equipped to render the services demanded of them, so the burden of cost can be spread over a period of years and not be taken from funds needed for current operations.
Repulse of raids by counties and cities on the state highway funds, which would result in substantial loss in federal grants and reduction of necessary maintenance below proper standards.
I would be remiss if I did not express my most sincere and heartfelt appreciation of the fine and loyal support given my administration by my personal staff and by the heads of the various institutions, departments, boards and commissions of the state government. They have all served the state with wisdom, industry and a high devotion to duty.
I particularly wish to express my appreciation to the Honorable Earl Snell, Secretary of State, and the Honorable Rufus C. Holman, State Treasurer, for their cooperation as my fellow-members on the board of control.
In closing I extend to my successor my best wishes for the success of his administration in behalf of and for the interests of all of the people of Oregon, and assurance of my cooperation to the utmost of my ability.