Governor Tom McCall's Administration
Inaugural Message, 1967
Source: Inaugural Message Governor Tom. McCall, Oregon, 1967
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Fifty-fourth Legislative Assembly, and Fellow Citizens:
The ceremonies you have just witnessed have given Oregon a new governor and secretary of state and have sped an outgoing governor on his mission in the United States Senate.
I joint with you in wishing Secretary of State Myers and Senator-Elect Hatfield auspicious tours of duty and in paying tribute to Mark Hatfield’s sixteen years in State Government.
No man has served as governor in this century as long as Mark Hatfield and, to the best of my knowledge, no man has left his imprint on so many state actions, policies and programs.
My earnest hope is that his successor will be equal to the challenges of the four years stretching ahead. An imperative of progress in these years is a rapport between the executive and legislative branches.
If differences there e, let them not arise from any fault in communications, and I pledge to you, for my part, to keep the lines of availability and cooperation constantly open.
In this hour we gather in the common dedication to the people of a great state. We are their creatures. Without their assent we do not exist as public servants.
To the extent it is humanly possible to do so, let us put aside the temptations to b e guided by regionalize, factionalism, or anything which fragments the public interest. May we pledge to one another, then, to work, no in partisanship, but in partnership.
It is in this spirit I address you --- and through you, our fellow citizens --- today.
This legislature and this administration are to become perhaps the most closely scrutinized in Oregon’s history
I am not referring to the media coverage --- as extensive as that will be.
My observation runs to the anticipations of the people in terms of the gross legislative product.
The pledges of the candidates in last year’s hard-fought election led our citizens to expect more than ever of the process we shift into high gear today.
And a substantial number of these citizens are actually demanding more. Certainly in the area of property taxed relief this is strikingly true.
Besides this clear and emphatic mandate, the voters expressed themselves as strongly in favor of steps to prevent the expropriation of Pacific Northwest water by the Southwest . . . to bolster safeguards against contamination of our streams, lakes and air . . . and to continue the balance of development of our economic, education, highway, recreational and institutional systems.
In my quarter-century of analyzing public concerns, there is not recallable counterpart of this wide, thoughtful interest in so many issues. Under girding this attention, running through the consideration of every program --- are the questions of cost, efficiencies and economy. And on these points one detects an intense public desire for proof that each tax dollar spent is buying on dollars worth of good government.
In this hour of close communication today, let us consider together the citizen and his constitution . . . his governments . . . his rights . . . his intellect . . . his environment . . . his recreation . . . his economy . . . the citizen and the labor force . . . the citizen --- tax obligations and tax relief.
The citizen and his Constitution
There are many reasons for the so=-called drift of power form the states and localities to the nations capital.
To help bring the exercise of parts of this authority back to where it belongs, the sovereignty of states and people must bed reasserted.
This calls for a reinvigoration of the problem- solving punch of state and local government. We cannot continue to wallow in maze of discoordinated taxing districts any more than our states can hope to progress with archaic constitutions that reflect the problems and mores in the heyday of the covered wagon.
Six years ago the people directed the legislature to update our constitution. I urge as a starting point for you consideration that proposal which was presented to the House of Representatives in 1965 with the following modifications:
*Provide for a lieutenant governor to run in tandem with the governor, but not to preside over the Senate;
*Create the position of controller for a six-year term on a nonpartisan ballot, the position to have audit and supervisory elections functions;
*Follow the major bar association recommendations on the selection of the judiciary.
I support single member legislative districts, optional annual session of the legislature a change in the signature base for petitions to a percentage of voters for governor, and tightening restrictions on tax spending.
The Citizen and his Governments
Quality in government is related to structure and the caliber of the men and women who provide the services demanded of government.
ON January 3 of this year, I presented the Joint Ways and Means Committee some proposals designed to maintain and enhance competence of personnel.
One dealt with immediate improvement of the salary schedules of most state employees and another with their retirement program. I commend these to you for you earliest consideration.
You will also be interested, I am sure, in other recommendations offered at that time, to g rant delayed increases in judicial and legislative salaries and prompt increase in per diem expenses of members of the Assembly.
IN the area of structure, nothing is more frustrating to the citizen than the maze of governments which, though established presumably to serve him, sometimes succeed as goals, one of the means toward better governing would be the establishment of an assistant in the governor’s office to solidify lines of communication between the state and cities and counties and other local units of government.
This same assistant could help local governments in preparing and negotiating federal grants, stimulate local initiative in problem solving, facilitate cooperative arrangements with other governmental agencies and I would hope could bolster the defense of local units from arbitrary decisions by federal officialdom.
This administration urges proud action on legislation to transform the Department of Commerce from a provisional to a permanent status. Assurance of its continuation at an early date will facilitate the department’s preparations for an even more significant role.
At the heart of government is the entire election process and a complete review of our laws in this connection is in order. We must tighten reporting procedures, apply teachers, and eliminate misleading provisions.
The citizen and his Rights
Maintaining the rights of the citizen is a thread that runs though numerous matters other than constitutional revision and election procedures.
In these days of technological advances, we must, for example, be ever vigilant to prevent invasions of privacy by the electronic eye or ear.
The very bigness of government carries with it the enlarged risk of blundering into people’s lives. The bigger government grows under the demands we place on it, the smaller many citizens are made to feel.
One of the basic concepts on which our society was founded is the right of the citizen to defend himself --- or be defended --- against unfair, arbitrary, erroneous or capricious government actions.
So believing, I recommend that the legislature create the independent office of “Ombudsman”. The occupant would be appointed by the governor to revise and investigate citizen complaints of public servants’ unjustifiable inaction, inefficiency, arrogance or abuse of authority.
The system has worked well in Scandinavian countries and New Zealand.
The “Ombudsman” may criticize, suggest improvements in procedures, propose some specific remedy or reject the complaint. But he would not judge individual guilt to innocence, nor have the power to change administrative decisions.
Addition of the “Ombudsman” would offer the citizen still another protection of his rights.
Civil rights is a principle deserving of unflagging support, despite the rise and ebb of controversy, the lack of demonstrations on the part of Oregon’s non-whites should not induce the apathetic belief that our state is free from racial disadvantage and bigotry.
Oregon’s civil rights laws are adequate to cope with individual cases coming to the attention of authorities. The number of such cases, however, scantily mirrors the width and depth of the predicament of poor non-whites, and whites, as well, who are unemployable in a society which places mounting emphasis on human skills.
Employment is at the base of the whole struggle for civil rights. And conventional and technical training is the key to employability.
The Model School program of Portland School district No. 1 strikes at the problem in early life. The avenues for others of the disadvantages must be widened by stepped-up training. Embracing special courses and vastly more inclusive state apprenticeship program.
The Citizen and his Intellect
This administration will discuss education in depth in a subsequent special message to the legislature following the completion of the necessary budget work.
We treat with basic school support later in this message --- but suffice it to say concerning other major educational points that more emphasis needs to be placed on:
*Encouraging expansion of kindergarten by the state on a non-compulsory subsidy basis;
*Broadening vocational education at the secondary and post-high school levels; vigorous, effective Portland graduate and research program, while recognizing the inescapable fact that a quality graduate program must be based on a quality undergraduate program;
*Expanding community colleges to meet regional needs as funds permit and under a coordinated statewide plan of growth and development.
Broadly, we must, within our means, maintain quality higher education through a program providing at least one open door beyond the high school for every student.
The Citizen and Crime and Justice
A striking parallel between muffed educational opportunities and delinquent and criminal behavior recurs innumerable times in the records of inmates of our jails and state penal intuitions.
To go with strengthened academic and vocational programs at these institutions, the state’s treatment complex requires and adult diagnostic center at the penitentiary . . . an indeterminate sentencing law . . . a more professional-type parole board, the functions of which should be transferred to the corrections division . . . and development of more halfway housed and group foster homes.
Expansion of the Pitchford Boys Ranch kind of facility for pre-delinquent boys is urgently needed. This would be consonant with the intensified efforts of the state to join in improving community preventive action against delinquency.
Skyrocketing rates of crime and delinquency also compel us to continue to upgrade our law enforcement complements --- both in caliber and in numbers --- and to re-analyze our court structure.
A positive step toward realization of a state police academy is possible though funding of a heating system for Camp Withycombe, to enable its facilities to be used for police training on a year-round basis.
Police training, equipment and personnel must be augmented both to protect the citizen and help officers to comply with new and more difficult interpretations of criminal law. Hopefully, progress as long these lines will reduce the rising incidence of criminal appeals and cases of delayed justice.
More criminal appeals and more civil litigation put the State Supreme Court at an increasing disadvantage. Its mounting backlog of cases makes it essential to act on one of these alternatives: 1. addition of two justices to the present court, 2. creation of a three-member Supreme Court of Criminal Appeals, or 3. initiation of a system of intermediate courts of appeals.
Also, the new legislature will be faced with a movement favoring family courts. Surely, there can be few detractors of the concept of one court --- instead of as many as five --- handling the problems of a troubled family whose complications may fun from criminality and incompatibility to alcoholism and mental illness.
The Citizen and his Health and Safety
Great progress has occurred in matters relating to physical health but we have but begun to become effective in programs of public enlightenment as they relate to mental health. We should concentrate efforts I helping emotionally-disturbed children for which adequate state facilities and staff are virtually non-existent. Continued improvement in staffing at all our institutions for the mentally ill and retarded is contemplated. Since more than four-fifths of our mentally retarded are not institutionalized, we should initiate adequate state research education and training regarding the cause, treatment and community care of our retarded. The staffing of social workers in the schools would make significant contributions to our young people and their families. Expansion of community mental health facilities must be pressed.
The war in Viet Nam and the deadliest of disease take their toll in life and limb in what may appear to be unavoidable ways, diplomatically or medically. But the tragic destruction of humanity on our highways must rank as one of civilization’s saddest indictments. This assembly would be well advised to update Oregon’s traffic safety statutes by:
*Reexamination of drivers every four years, with examination every two years for those over 65 years of age;
*Requirement of specific licensing for school bus drivers;
*Maximum speed limits on Oregon highways, carrying from place to place and road-to-road depending upon engineering studies including type and condition of road, the amount of traffic and other factors affecting speed;
*Expansion of driver education programs and providing that no one under 18 receives a driver’s license unless he has taken an approved driver training course;
*Addition of state police officers to the extent their training can be achieved;
*Requirement t hat motorcycle operators and their passengers ear safety helmets; and, finally,
*Establishment of ore rigid standards on re-issuance of driver’s licenses to chronic violators.
The Citizen and his Environment
Health, economic strength, recreation --- in fact, the entire outlook and image of the state --- are tied inseparable to environment.
Water, air, land and scenic pollution threaten these and other values in Oregon --- a state pictured in Oregon’s first inaugural address in 1959 as “one of the most attractive portions of the North American continent”.
Oregon still merits that description, but to continue to qualify will require:
*Expansion of State Sanitary Authority staff and operating budget, both of which are more than 60 per cent below the “desirable” standard set by the Public Administration Service in its 1964 study.
*Intensification of research into development of improved or advanced methods of waste treatment, including disposal of solid wastes such as garbage and old automobile bodies;
*State matching of up to 25 per cent of the cost for sewage disposal facilities for municipalities and districts, any of which face transition from secondary to costly third-stage treatment;
*Amendment of sanitary districts’ statutes to encourage and facilitate formation of metropolitan units;
*Prohibition against dumping specifically enumerated materials into waters of the state under any circumstances;
*Granting of summary abatement power to the Sanitary Authority to cope with flagrant violations;
*Requiring Sanitary Authority-based building permits to check the possibility of water and air pollution form proposed industrial facilities.
Provisions for much of the foregoing are made in legislation drafted the request of your excellent ¸∏public Health Interim Committee.
IN fact, we must leave no door unopened in battling the menace of contamination of our environment.
We must put an engineer on the Sanitary Authority and a sanitarian on the Board of Health.
We must broaden our perspective and involve the Western States Water Council in pollution control on interstate streams.
The Citizen and His Recreation
Additional safeguards of environment are inherent in programs to acquire inland recreation lands, preserve more beach areas for public use, beautify our highways and augment our inventories of fish and game.
On or about March 1, I will send you recommendations for implementing the Willamette Recreational Greenway suggested by State Treasurer Straub and endorsed by me. Volunteer and full-time task forces and working up a program for this exciting development.
The Highway Department, in providing money and personnel for the Greenway study, feels it can share in this commitment now and in the future and still meet its other recreation obligations.
One of the most pressing of these is acquisition of beach lands. Few realize that the state owns Oregon’s beaches only up to the median high-water mark.
The Department has launched a program to provides beach accesses every three miles at an eventual total cost of $8,000,000. Legislation is needed in this session to enable the Department to obtain title to these vital lands through adversary proceedings.
Oregon’s Game Commission has revived no general license fee adjustment since 1950. Since then, the proportion of total income attributable to licenses and tags has dropped 10 per cent, and inflation has sheared more than 30 cents from each dollar available to the Commission.
Higher license fees are essential to mounting adequately-financed management and research programs in an era of unprecedented demands on Oregon’s fish and game. We should not tolerate further delay in authorizing the proposed fee schedule.
With these increase in effect, the status of fish and game populations can be improved --- providing the finest angling and hunting in Oregon’s history for any army of resident and out-of-state sportsmen.
The Citizen and his Economy
The abundance of fish and game, the purity of water and air, the serenity of scenic open space --- all tremendously worthwhile in themselves --- are also vital economic factors in Oregon.
These contributors to Oregon’s cherished livability complement an natural resource complex that feeds the state’s principal wellsprings of income; forest products, agriculture and tourism.
The pattern of Oregon’s economy, geography and population incidence makes ours a state on wheels. A 1 cent-per-gallon increase in the state gasoline tax is needed to help keep Oregon’s highway system first in all the nation and to provide property tax relief.
The Threat from the Southwest of expropriation of our most precious resource, water, demands a speed-up of our water needs study though additional funding. The governors of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have personally assured me they will move to accelerate similar research effects in their respective states.
As soon as feasible, Oregon must also initiate engineering studying to determine the broad specifications for irrigation works to open expanses of Eastern Oregon to cultivation.
Those who till the soil and furnish the staples of our table will make increasing contributions to the state’s income in other ways. The recommendations of your imaginative interim Committee on Agriculture are worthy of you prompt consideration, for research, marketing insights and trade must undergo further advances.
Throttling limitations on the Land Board in its administration of hundreds of thousands of acres of Common School fund grazing and forest lands must be lifted. This can be accomplished though constitutional amendment or revision to provide flexibility for better management in keeping with multiple-use guidelines.
Your able Interim Committee on Public Lands has so recommended and has also prepared two memorials to the Congress.
WE recommend you support of these request to Washington to clarify federal and trading policies and review the allowable timber cut on federal lands in the state. There is abundant evidence that these timber resources can withstand a heavier harvest with out doing violence to sustained-yield principles.
The Citizen and the Labor Force
Unemployment compensation is more than just a stipend for the temporarily unfortunate. It must be viewed as insurance guaranteeing that families will not have to seek our welfare due to temporary loss of employment. Two immediate changes are necessary to make Oregon’s unemployment compensation program more actuarially sound; 1. We need tom identify the schedule of rates for employers to provide for eight levels rather than four; and 2. We need to develop a sliding-scale concept of payments whereby a percentage of the state average wage or the recipient’s average wage, whichever is lower, would be considered the minimum base. This flexibility is essential if we are to avoid repeated legislative controversy and meet changing conditions.
Any controversy between management and labor, or any dislocation that strains employment relation creates a hardship on Oregon’s economy and an inconvenience to the public that can drastically effect our state. It is there fore incumbent upon state government to provide more workable machinery in the area on employment relations. This administration proposes the creation of an Oregon Employment Relations Agency where the administration for all employee-employer laws would be centralized. This agency would be empowered to establish election procedures, to regulate employment practices and to provide counsel in employment disputes. IT would also be empowered t undertake fact-finding procedures s a method of resolving disputes.
The Citizen --- Tax Obligations and Tax Relief
Despite the 1966 dip in our forest products revenue, a strong, increasingly diversified economy has supported state government services at an ever-rising level.
But for too many years Oregon educations, citizens and politicians have given lip service to the goal of 50 per cent state support of primary and secondary education.
For too many years no significant progress has been made toward that objective and the burden has fallen more heavily of the property taxpayer.
It is time to act.
This administration’s budget proposes a state-supported program providing slightly less than $600 per child in the next school year and slightly more than $600 per child in the ensuing school year.
Half of this amount would be distributed by means of a basic grant for each pupil. THE other half would come form a combination of state and local funds geared to local needs and resources.
This program, together with existing federal programs, appears adequate to meet particularly responsibilities of Oregon’s larges school district with its concentration of disadvantaged children. Were it not so, a special grant program to deal with that problem would be recommended.
Likewise, the costs of transportation can be encompassed in this basic proposal without the recourse to special grants.
Further, there will be no need for continuation of existing county and intermediate school levies.
Thus we arrive at a simple two-part formula which together with the local districts’ levy will supply adequate and understandable support for Oregon’s public schools. In fact, the state’s share of this support would represent and increase of $150,000,000 in the coming biennium.
For all but a handful of school districts, principally those that have not reorganized, the existing level of operations and normal growth can be funded with a maximum levy of 1 per cent of market value of taxable property.
This administration, therefore proposes that such a limit be established for property taxes for school operation purposes.
Let me say to my friends in education that I could not espouse an increase of important blocks of state aid will be directed to cities and counties.
The programs, responsibilities and sizes of local taxing units, other than schools, vary too greatly to make any percentage limitation on their property taxes appropriate. It is feasible, however, to encourage their recourse to use charges and other no property tax sources.
To that end this administration recommends repeal of the Constitutional provision allowing an automatic 6 per cent increase in tax base each year.
Local units should be required to present any increase in property taxes to a vote of the people at the time of the statewide primary or general election or at a special election to be held at a uniform date each year.
Funding of the foregoing program of school support and property tax relief can be accomplished with additional state revenues approximating $35,000,000 a year.
Only if the legislature wishes to grant must more substantial property tax relief can there be justification for the Assembly to refer a sales tax to the people.
This administration’s proposals, however, permit state government to adhere to its traditional revenue mainstay, the income tax. By having exercised prudence in our budgetary review, we have been able to propose property tax relief far in excess of budgetary review we have been able to propose property tax relief far in excess of increased income taxed recommended.
We propose only an approximate 15 per cent increase in the income tax. At the same time we would lighten the worry and bother on the individual of coping with income tax forms and administration. We would do this by having most income taxpayers report simply the taxable income shown on their federal return together with the computation of state tax.
Those with large and more complex incomes would use the same brief state form but accompany it with a copy of their federal income tax return. No longer, involved state return would re required.
Since business is a larger proportionate beneficiary of property tax relief than the average individual, we propose a one-third increase in corporate income and excise taxes.
A detailed message on the subject covered under this heading will be presented to the Assembly shortly. Included will be tables showing the distribution of state aid to each school district, precise budget figures, schedules displaying the impact of tax changes, and relevant draft legislation.
The Unspoken issue
The problems and opportunities outlines to you are weighty indeed. But as forbidding as some of them may appear, we who are on the home front have as the unspoken issue on our hearts and minds those men serving to preserve our way of life in Viet Nam and elsewhere.
Legislation has bee provided which makes state educational benefits available to Oregon veterans who earn the American Expeditionary Medal. Benefits should be extended by constitutional means so that these same new veterans could qualify for the self-sustaining farm and home loan program which has meant so much to their predecessors and to the economy of our state. We can do no less in thanksgiving for their sacrifices.
The overriding Challenge
A few weeks ago I said, “The overriding challenge --- the umbrella issue --- of the campaign and the decade is quality --- quality of life in Oregon.”
I respectfully suggest that the proposals this administration has submitted to you today will meet the challenge and further d dramatize the significance of that issue.
Your oath of office and mine mark the moment of truth.
In these weeks and months as we labor together, as winter t urns to spring, hope and expectation abound throughout our state that we will devote ourselves imaginatively and selflessly to the tasks at hand.
To this end I here solemnly vow --- in the proudest hour of my life --- to join you fully and completely in assuring the people of Oregon we will work with all of the talents and good will at our command in their service.