Governor Tom McCall's Administration
Second Inaugural Message, 1971
Source: Inaugural Address Governor Tom McCall, Oregon, 1971
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Fifty-sixth Legislative Assembly, Honorable judges, Distinguished Guests, and Fellow Citizens:
WE embark today on as demanding a mission of statecraft as their chambers have ever encompassed.
All of us must shoulder a load of legislative work that ought to be dealt with a two annual regular sessions --- an we must do it at a period of new crisis in the fiscal life of our state.
We take some consolation form the realization that Oregon’s citizens have found us worthy of leadership in crucial times.
We assemble in common obligation to those citizens, which impels us to work, not as adversaries, but with a high degree of teamsmanship tuned to mutual respect.
Divided, we shall be conquered by the most of challenges pressing close around us.
Surely, we all can subscribe to the uniting thought: That our actions here --- and always --- be guided by a reverence for life and respect for nature.
I suggest this theme respectfully, but firmly, not as any radical departure --- which it isn’t --- but as a reaffirmation of what I perceive to be the dominant Oregon mood.
It is running stronger in the veins of Oregonians than it was even two years ago when I told you, “Keeping Oregon a quality part of the worked is what being governor and legislators is all about.”
And it is a more compelling force than it was four years ago when the Legislature heard me say, “The overriding challenge of the decade is quality --- quality of life in Oregon.”
Much of the product of those session mirrored you appreciation of the mandate for quality.
My first promise to the legislature is a fledgling governor was “to keep the lines of availability and cooperation constantly open.”
This vow I have honored in both the spirit and the letter. You have reciprocated in kind. Accordingly, it is my belief that in Oregon we have the most meaningful rapport between the legislative and executive branches in any of the 50 states.
This is cited not to preen the Governor’s feathers but to advise the new members of the Assembly --- and to remind the old --- that if differences there be between us in 1971, they need not arise from any fault in communications.
Objective assessments indicate that fiscal challenges to Oregon state government during the next biennium may be as thorny as any in history. But we’ve had our practice for stormy voyages.
You really haven’t experienced the exquisite agony of governing until, in one year’s time, you’ve had thrown at you an economic recession, a whopping welfare deficit, a virtually unbelievable budget for the new biennium, and a supreme Court decision costing more than $15 million.
And that doesn’t include those non-fiscal ulcer-makers: the People’s Army Jamboree, campus unrest and the nerve gas controversy.
All of you shared these ordeals. All of you know the ship of state sails on only when we brave storm after storm with a combination of patience, humor, imagination, determination --- and teamwork.
Exhibiting those attributes in the weeks ahead, we can accomplish much for the more than 2 million Oregonians we serve.
This Assembly has three tasks that demand its earliest attention.
One is a joint effort on our part to reconstitute Oregon’s welfare program; the second requires the initiation this year of a substantial federal revenue-sharing operation with state and local governments; and the other concerns the new federal-state program of extended unemployment benefits during periods of high unemployment.
Inflation, unemployment and family break-up have combined with costly federal administrative and county decisions to skyrocket public welfare caseloads and expenditures.
While the fiscal impact of these circumstances has been sever in all states, it has been particularly devastating in Oregon. The result for this biennium has been a stringent control of expenditures.
For 1971-73, the outlook is even more ominous, with welfare siphoning off vat amounts of General Fund moneys otherwise available for state support of education and property tax relief.
Despite the obvious complexity of public welfare problems, we must engage them head-on.
We must intensify our efforts toward vigorous fraud investigation and relentless pursuit of non-supporting fathers.
WE must seek innovative means of reversing current welfare trends. The Family Assistance Plan proposed in the last session of Congress, with modifications, could turn these trends around.
WE must redouble our efforts in education, training and rehabilitation for current or potential welfare recipients. Adequate provision for employment referral and child care services is essential to the success of these programs.
WE must recognize that regardless of the adequacy of training programs, many welfare recipients will still remain at a competitive disadvantage in today’s labor market. The federal law should be changed to allow states to implement a public work program affording employment opportunities for those who cannot be placed in the private sector.
Finally, we must continue to urge the Federal government to assume all, or a substantially larger portion of, the fiscal responsibility for public welfare.
Extended unemployment benefits, while not required by federal regulations until 1972, may be paid this year in eligible states where legislatures move quickly.
Prompt adoption of enabling legislation would mean 13 weeks of additional benefits this year for those who have exhausted their 26-week entitlement. This is the second priority task before us.
The State Division of Employment estimates that 5,500 Oregonians who exhausted their benefits before January 15, 1971, would qualify for the extension if Oregon enters the program now.
If economic recovery drags in 1971, extended benefits could be paid to as many as 20,000 eligible Oregonians.
The urgent family needs of Oregon workers who are victims of a national recession dictate that we not temporize in reaching a decision.
The third task requires action to bring about federal r revenue-sharing with state and local governments this year --- either outright sharing or federal assumption of the $6 billion annual state and local welfare costs.
State, city and county leaders across the nation are solidly united now on the mechanics for triggering action this year.
I urge this legislature to petition Congress to call a convention to propose a revenue sharing amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
One month ago, the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly unanimously passed a model resolution inauguration this process. If 33 other states follow suit, Congress is obliged to call such a convention.
Add my position of long standing has been that when such sharing begins, the State of Oregon’s top-priority shall be given to the education of our children.
IN education, however, the stakes are too high for us to rely on future action by the Federal Government.
For two decades we have talked to dramatically increasing basic school support in Oregon. Unfortunately for the schools --- doubly unfortunate for the property taxpayer --- talk has been the limit of our accomplishment.
In each of the ten previous opening sessions of the Legislature I have attended, hopes have been coved for increasing state support to 50 percent of local school operation costs.
Twice as governor I succumbed to the allure of this easy-to-express, elusive-to-attain goal.
Speaking to the opening joint session in 1967, I laid out an income tax-based program designed to reach the 50p percent goal.
Again in 1969 I urged renewed efforts to climb to that level.
In basic school support, we have called for the best, but we have moved steadily toward the worst. Despite a doubling of state dollars per child, the downslide already has taken us from 40 percent to 22 percent --- and 17 percent looms in the biennium ahead.
I may be the first governor in recent history to stand before you and concede --- not with shame, but with candor --- we just can’t get all the way from here to there in one biennium.
This admission, I’m convinced, is a reflection of realism. Without realism, we’re never going to get started on the job of halting the retreat in basic school support and start it marching up the hill.
Some have suggested that education should have been given first claim to General Fund monies in the budget --- but they fail to understand this perilously balanced document.
The physical shape of the budget is like that of a very tall man. Had the governor taken $35 million off the top --- the sum needed to hold basic school support at the 22 percent level through 1973 --- this manlike profile would have and enormous head, but it also would have a distinctly hollow chest, a 12-inch waist and no legs whatever to provide locomotion.
Many other programs, in other words, would have suffered --- some, possible, to the point of extinction.’
I am now convinced that if we are ever to start up the long road toward an acceptable lever of basic school support, we must reassess our position, adopt attainable goals and take a fresh look at alternative revenue sources.
As an initial approach, I propose that we reach 23 percent state support in 1971-72 and 25 percent in 1972-73. This will require $53 million in new state revenues and will result in a corresponding decrease in property tax requirements.
Among numerous alternative methods of production added revenues of this amount are: Elimination of one-half of the federal tax deduction one state income tax returns; a modest increase in our current income tax rate structure; or adoption of a selected group of non-regressive excise taxes.
These particular revenue options are not intended to be exclusive. I mention them simply because each has been the subject of past discussion and received some indication of relatively broad support.
If, in you deliberations, you wish to consider more innovative approaches, or mount a broader attack on the problems of school finance and property tax relief, many avenues are open to you.
A year-long study commission by me to assess revenue alternatives for education and property tax relief is growing to a color. Professor Richard Lindholm, Dean of the University of Oregon’s School of Business Administration, will make 28 reports on the finding available to legislators this month.
We learned in 1967 --- and again in 1969 --- that we aren’t likely to solve all our state’s fiscal problems in a single stroke. But a combination of the options I have outlined for increasing basic school support, along with senior-citizen, low-income and general property tax relief measure described in my budget, will accomplish several things.
It will provide a firmer school finance base.
It will tend to stabilize property taxes for the next two years.
It will maintain the present level of direct, general property tax relief.
IT will provide immediate and substantial property tax relief to senior citizens and those of low income.
It will provide the time to determine whether federal shared revenues will become available, and to decide how these revenues can best be integrated into the fiscal structure of the state and local governments.
These attainments will not come without diligent effort. They will require bicameral support, bipartisan consensus and voter acceptance. You have my unqualified pledge of support in the accomplishment of each of these objectives.
Likewise, the financial bind on post-high school education is serious. We must look hard for means to reduce coasts and yet maintain the quality of education programs. We should consider recommendation in the Carnegie Commission report for ways higher education degrees can be earned in less time and with more options.
The General Fund budget, balanced for the next biennium at almost $819 million, is geared to keep up with inflation --- and that’s about all.
The 13 percent increase it represents is a smaller proportional increase than the General Fund has registered in four of the last five biennia.
Budget requests were cut a record $375 million. Tragically, no deleted request was frivolous, since all were based on “Goals for a Liable Oregon” as painstakingly documented by state agencies and local officials during the past 18 months.
It is a “hold-the-line” budget, with little program improvement; but it is fiscally sound, and within this stricture we sought to keep pace with the needs of our urbanizing Oregon society.
Some areas reflect the need for reinforcement.
The budget proposes that Oregon will operate 77 programs in 1971-73 providing assistance from all funds to local governments of more than $526 million. This is an increase of $120 million over the correct biennium’s outlay.
Major areas of improved assistance include aid to private colleges, mental health, community juvenile institutions, grants for public safety and sewer facilities, and pollution-control enforcement.
If any issue has eclipsed the problems of government finance during my first term in office, it is the war against despoilment of nature.
Oregon needs from this legislature some 30 measures to improve protection and management of its natural resources, including:
More effective controls over air-pollution though requiring vehicle tune-up and inspection, regulating traffic in population centers, requiring discharge permits for air contaminants, and removing statutory exemptions on burning.
Implementation of the bonding authority, approved by the voters last may, is indicated through new legislation removing the $50 million restoration and making funds available for other pollution control needs, particularly solid waste.
Provision should be made under the pollution bonding program for a capital construction loan fund to local government and to metropolitan service districts for incinerators; tank farms to recycle our oils and chemicals; and shredders and compactors, for garbage conversion and recycling plants.
Other urgent needs in the natural resources area are:
Expansion of state bonding authority to fund all water developments.
Establishment of a state agency with authority to approve sites for nuclear power plants.
Doubling of the Department of Environmental Quality’s staff, and centering in that department full responsibility for management of solid waste and radioactive and nuclear waste.
Continuation of efforts to add acquisitions for the Willamette River park system, and nuclear waste.
Continuation of efforts to add acquisitions for the Willamette River park system, and the Highway Division’s park and beach access programs.
Adoption of laws for removal and disposal of abandoned automobiles and to re quire a “price on the head” of bottles and cans, encouraging pickup, cleanup, return and reuse.
Finally, in this listing, retain of a Department of Natural Resources in the general form approved by the House in 1969.
There are tow other board areas, Public Safety and Human Resources, where I urge consolidation of state agencies to achieve greater coordination and efficiency.
As we move forward in other categories of sate services, we cannot be direct in our elemental duty to protect the safety of all Oregonians.
United States Chief Justice Warren E. Burger has said, “Governments exist chiefly to foster the rights and interests of their citizens --- to protect their homes and property, their persons and their lives.”
Expediting criminal justice holds part of the answer. This Assembly must seize the opportunity to reduce the time required to process a criminal case by about half --- to less than one year.
You will have before you proposals to achiever that end and to bolster Oregon’s crime-fighting field forces though creation of a Department of Public Safety.
The department would consolidate several independent agencies now concerned with crime and civil disorder.
I am particularly concerned in this matter, because prime responsibility for public safety rides on my shoulders. Though steps can be taken to delegate authority in this area, it is impossible to delegate my responsibility to control civil disorder and press on in the day-to-day fight against lawlessness.
In more specific areas of public safety, I urge speedy enactment of legislation to control the sale, transportation and possession of high explosive. Three times in recent months public facilities in Oregon have been severely damaged, and lives have been placed in jeopardy, through use of high-explosives by terrorists.
The law-enforcement profession is one of extraordinary peril, and one which makes exceptional demands on the resourcefulness and judgment of those who enter it. I urge you to give most serious consideration to establishment of a statewide law-enforcement officers’ retirement system.
AN increased State Police workload is anticipated. The Governor’s budget calls for 133 additional traffic officers to strengthen the campaign against mayhem and destruction on Oregon’s streets and highways.
Fourteen additional State Police investigators are needed. Establishment of a narcotics investigation unit within the State Police is an imperative of the new biennium.
The mental Health Division budget will fund local citizens’ drug advisory councils on a statewide basis and will operate a rehabilitation living center for up to 175 drug dependent persons.
My most sweeping recommendation in the social service area is state assumption of responsibility for community mental health clinics in the second year of the new biennium. This move will assure greater service within a comprehensive, fully-integrated system.
Added emphasis on community-oriented treatment is also a feature of the budget recommended for the Corrections Division.
The Corrections, Mental Health, Welfare, Employment and Vocational Rehabilitation Divisions have works well together in an informal alliance. This Legislature should make their interaction earn more fruitful by consolidating them as a Department of Human Resources.
All of us were shocked last year to see a child snatched out of its adoptive parents’ home on a legal technicality. The Attorney General, in conjunction with representatives of child care agencies, has drafted a proposal to close this loophole.
Every young person in Oregon has a personal stalk in another of the issues destined to be devoted in the House and Senate chambers this year.
I allude to the question of extending a franchise to 18, 19, 20 year olds in state and local elections, now the Act of Congress permitting them to vote in national elections has been held constitutional.
It is my distinct impression that many Oregonians believe any lowering of the voting age must be accompanied by a lowering of the age of majority.
I suggest, therefore, that this session pass a “lowering of the age of majority” bill as a prerequisite to approval of a measure to lower the voting age in state and local elections.
Without this reassurance, I’m certain that Oregon’s electorate will again drub the lower voting age at the polls. The inconsistency of voting rights denies at the state and local level, while sanctioned in national elections, will perpetuate chaos at the polling place.
We must not abandon our responsibility to present the voters a modern, concise and workable constitution. I earnestly hope this Assembly will submit a truly noncontroversial revision at the polls in the spring of 1972.
Oregon is justly renowned for its voting integrity, but we must effect major changes in our Corrupt Practices Act, particularly in the area of campaign financing. I endorse bills for this purpose proposed by the Secretary of State and the Legislative committee on Rules and Resolution.
WE must set overall ceilings on the near-runaway costs of political campaigns.
“Safeguarding the electoral process’ has a counterpart in the world of retail trade. WE call it “consumer protection.”
The Attorney General and I have developed a plan for a consumer services division within the Department of Commerce and a consumer fraud unit within the Attorney General’s office.
THE two units working together will provide a continuing responsiveness to consumer grievances, coordinate a variety of consumer educational programs, and deal forcefully with those few businessmen who refuse to adhere to standards of ethical conduct.
Additionally, the Attorney General is proposing a comprehensive consumer protection act. This, too, I commend to you favorable attention.
Whatever state programs you and I formulate will falter in the absence of a health, well-rounded Oregon economy.
Emphasizing quality rather than sheer size, we must plan for expansion and diversification of tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and foreign and domestic trade.
I ask the legislature, therefore, to strengthen Oregon’s foreign trade position by establishing an international trade unit within the Division of Economy Development.
We are beginning to realize the potential Oregon’s scenic wonders hold for the production of motion pictures. We must extend and even warmer welcome to Hollywood producers to enlarge this highly lucrative, non-polluting source in income.
Oregon needs a small but fulltime state unit to continue the informal effort I initiated last summer to encourage sales of Oregon products and services to the Federal sales to the world’s largest buyer in Washington. D. C.
Oregon cannot hope to capitalize on an additional agricultural potential in excess of $100 million without continuous developmental research, for which a modest $200,000 is recommended.
The state will be well served if we adopt the recommendation of the Legislature’s Urban Affairs Interim Committee to establish a state housing authority. Coupled with this should be authority for a $200 million bonding capacity to assist in financing low and moderate-income housing in Oregon.
Although I have mention only tow legislative committees by name today, the contribution of various interim groups to Oregon problem-solving has been prodigious. I subscribe, at least in principle, to most of their far-ranging recommendations.
Specifically I invite you attention to the management 70s Task Force whose reports will be part of your deliberations.
This is the unit of 20 corporate executives whose fulltime services were donated by their employers for a year. They focused on 27 major agencies in Oregon state government, in a searching analysis of strengths and weaknesses, and came up with more than 850 recommendations for change.
If all of these were implemented administratively, or adopted by the Legislature, the resultant savings or increased revenues could approximate $20 million a year.
This year the State Department of Transportation will be accelerating efforts to structure multi-modal and interagency transportation planning and programming in both the private and public sectors.
This also is the year set by the 1969 legislature for completion of statewide local planning in all 36 counties. The wisdom of man has devised no stronger told for as planning in all 36 counties. The wisdom of man has devised no stronger tool for assuring the prudent use of all our resources far into the future.
The Complexion of the Willamette Valley five, ten or even twenty-five years from now is being determined by what is known as the “Environmental Protection and Development Plan for the Willamette Valley.”
Jointly sponsored by local government officials and the Governor, this vast effort will provide the basis for developing the valley, pack to peak, in a manner that best preserves its quality.
Local leaders, too, are primarily responsible for development of Oregon’s coastal program.
This undertaking is headed by a 26-member Oregon Coastal Conservation and Development Committee. The goal of this unit is to “prepare, encourage and maintain a comprehensive coastal program for the orderly long-range conservation and development of marine and coastal resources.”
It’s a big order --- but once the Committee shows it’s able to fill it, it will qualify as the coastal zone management authority required by proposed federal legislation.
This designation would qualify us for additional federal support; but, of crucial importance, it would mean that the future of the Oregon coast will be planned and managed by Oregonians.
In this message, then, I have mentioned a few areas which --- in my view --- most urgently demand our attention.
John Gardner has warned, “there is no middle road for the spirit. We must call for the best, our live with the worst.”
Compromise indeed is bad for the spirit if it limits one’s ideals or goals.
At the same time, if we renounce realism and gradualism, we may --- paradoxically --- be frustrated in our ideals, and see the realization of our goals delayed.
An Oregonian is in individual unique and his fierce independence --- but equally unique in his readiness to work effectively with his fellow citizens, as part of one team, when the chips are doesn’t. All of us know that the chips are on the table now, and the stakes are high.
We who are privileged to be in these chambers today can view the challenges we face as opportunities, not as reasons for despair. We can do this only if we blend our independent spirits in terms of reverence for the life and respect for nature. Each of you might suggest different words, but our goal certainly is the same: a better Oregon.
Members of the Assembly, we cannot shape a better Oregon by ourselves. We are leaders, but we are not magicians. Only the citizens of Oregon themselves can attain this goal.
Our task as leaders is to inspire, if we can, every Oregonian toward excellence in achievement for himself and for his state.
Oregon’s citizens are equal to the challenges which the 1970’s already are hurling at them. The time is upon us to proceed to the business at hand and demonstrate that we are worthy of their confidence.