Governor Tom McCall's Administration

Legislative Message, 1969

Source: Legislative Message Governor Tom McCall, Oregon, 1969

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Fifty-Fifth Legislative Assembly, and fellow Citizens:

We meet today in the face of great challenge and unrivaled opportunity. If we chose the right tools to meet the change, then we can seize the opportunity, and the progressive course of our cherished state will be ensured. With the moon feats of our astronauts to give us new reach and inspiration, this is the year of choosing. This session of the 55th Legislative Assembly is the Occasion. And you, the members, are the instruments of destiny.

This is True because we, all of us, stand this morning in the anteroom of a new decade. It will be a period of enormous obstacles. John Gardner says of what lies ahead, “While we pursuer old feuds and shiver before old ghosts, new and terrifying troubles await us --- and we cannot face those new troubles with any clarity of mind or unity of purpose while we are caught in old definitions of the problem.”

Months before the former secretary of Health, Education and Welfare wrote those works last September, my administration was pursuing the new definitions and map words last September, my administration was pursuing the new definitions and mapping new pathways into Oregon’s future.

Now, thousands of man-hours later, we are proposing what we are convinced is a perceptive response to the need to prepare in this last year of the old decade for he ten years of the new.

The response consists of many elements, most of which have already been made known to you.

In recent weeks, the Project 70s Task Force has published its study on reorganization and we have presented our office’s reorganization proposals and programs of major tax reform and beach and greenway acquisition.

Meanwhile, the legislature, too, has responded with the interim contributions of a number of its committees working in major problem areas.

Both the Project 70s Task Force and a legislative interim study group have dwelt on procedures for strengthening the state’s lawmaking branch. While this administration favors many of their specific recommendations, we open today by endorsing an attitude which is stressed in the Project 70s report.

The Task Force emphasized that the executive and legislative branches must identify must more closely in dealing with the broad and complex problems of the 1970s. In particular, it noted too much of a “we” and “they” orientation of the two branches --- and outlook that fosters separateness instead of sorely-needed cooperation.

It is my pledge today to work with you to break down such artificial and superficial barriers as there are to a more productive relationship.

Now to the substantive.

The Project 70s Task Force recommendations on executive reorganization require both statutory and constitutional implementation. We trust you will make revision of the Oregon Constitution one of you top orders of business again this session.

It is respectfully suggested that the legislature offer the voters those Task Force recommendations which require constitutional sanction as part of the revision referral process.

It goes without saying that the same serious attention needs to be accorded t hose Task Force and gubernatorial organizational proposals --- unrelated to the constitution --- that can be effected by legislative action.

These courses are complementary, not conflictory.

Implementation of constitutional reorganization of the executive branch might at best take place over a period of as long as four years.

In the meantime, amalgamation of the sprawling complex of 285 state agencies, boards, commissions and committees should e pushed as far as possible by legislative and executive action in 1969 and 1971.

Reorganization includes not only strengthening the state’s legislative and executive branches but structuring highly useful state-local and state-federal partnerships as well.

Elimination of the Board of Control, which does not involve a constitutional question, is a likely early objective of any meaningful reorganization effort. The Board’s perpetuation far beyond its era of usefulness blocks the most significant consolidation move of all: creation of the unified Department of Social Services.

Only through such a comprehensive entity can we effectively respond to the grinding problems of the economically, physically and educationally handicapped, regardless of whether you see them in the city or rural slum or whether they are invisible marchers in the army of the poverty-stricken.

In this connection, our administration is preparing legislative recommendations focused on these areas of challenge. But more than anything else, all of us are benefited by those thrusts that protect Oregon’s basic environment.

It is crucial to the enhancement of Oregon’s legibility that the proposed Department of Environmental quality include air and water pollution, solid waste disposal, and environmental controls such as those enforced by the Columbia Gorge Commission and Scenic Area Board.

We further noted in our early December statement, “if other environmental controls are initiated by the next legislature, such as and use planning and zoning or notice abatement, this will be the logical department to assume the responsibility.”

The time to promulgate state-wide land use planning and zoning is now. The Interim Committee on Agriculture has so recommended, as have our natural resource and local government officials. The physical evidence on all sides of us speaks even louder than works.

Although you will shortly receive a special message on this subject, suffice it to say today that in one area alone --- the protection of our beaches, scenic riverbanks and recreation lands in general --- zoning will be of incalculable benefit.

Every effort is being made today to avoid imposing on your time and indulgence with a long list of specifics, but here is the place to urge you to ensure financing of necessary beach, Willamette riverbank and other special acquisitions.

As an early order of business, I ask you to amend the 1951 Bonding Act of Highways so as to authorize the Highway Commission to sell bonds at the effective interest rate in the market at the time the bonds are offered. The Highway Commission has provided assurance that $15,000,000 in bond proceeds can be used for these special acquisition purposes between now and 1974 without risking the Commission’s existing commitments.

IN discussing the 1969-71 budget last month, this administration underlined the importance of giving the new Department of Environmental Quality bonding authority to help locatives with water pollution projects, including reservoirs.

Since then the Hardy committee of the State Sanitary Authority has recommended water pollution. The committee’s advocacy of bonding capacity of 1 per cent of the state’s true cash value, equal to $165,000,000, has my support.

Your attention is respectfully directed to essentials of a variety of other relevant and authoritative reports by committees inside and outside the legislature.

This administration’s recommendation for creation of a Department of Transportation also is the lead recommendation of the Legislative Interim Committee on Business Climate. The concept draws additional support from the Legislative Interim Committee on Agriculture.

There is not total agreement on every detail. Nevertheless, there is substantial agreement that the department’s several divisions should include one to coordinate and promote port activities.

In its report to the 55th Legislature, the Oregon Port Authorities Commission recommends establishment of a state port agency “to coordinate the development and financing of Oregon’s 23 port districts and Portland’s Commission of Public Docks.” I support this concept.

The terms of five members of the state-appointed Port of Portland governing body are up. I have asked the five, and they have consented, to continue to serve without certificates of appointment until the Legislature decides what the size, shape and powers of a state-wide or regional port authority ought to be.

The study groups just mentioned all have exhibited timely consent with developing export markets and expanding international commerce. Experiences of the recently returned Oregon Trade Mission to the Orient amply confirm the rightness of this emphasis.

I ask that the legislature move to strengthen Oregon’s foreign trade hand by gearing up port capabilities, creating a world trade unit in the Division of Economic Development and giving encouragement to government and private interests to invigorate the process of overseas contact.

A husky, well-rounded Oregon economy is tied to our ability to diversify, expand international and domestic trade and tourism, upgrade agriculture, compete hard for international and domestic trade and tourism, upgrade agriculture, compete hard for new payrolls and assist existing Oregon plants and offices.

All of these economic foundation stones would be furthered by establishment of a State of Oregon office in Washington D. C., to work with the various agencies and report consistently good economy results for their states from such an enterprise.

Actually, the next four years could, if exploited wisely, bring Oregon closer to Washington then ever before. Coming on the heels of the Johnson administrator’s better communications with the statehouses, the Nixon-Agnew dedication to a viable state-federal relationship may give rich meaning to the word “federalism: in this Jet Age.

Though memorials to congress, though these new direct contacts, and at attentive congressional delegation, we have an unparalleled opportunity to make our causes more visible to the federal establishment.

The most signification point we can get across is the Interim Committee on Public Land’s finding that public forest management be given a share of public forest revenues. One is intrigued by the committee’s thesis that application of more public forest revenues to timber management can enrich Oregon’s economy by tens of millions of dollars per year.

WE must impress on the legislative and executive branches in Washington our concern over stratospheric interest rates that tend to paralyze Oregon’s economy, our anxiety over future thermal pollution, our annoyance over the red tape of the federal gun control act and our desire for a revised Columbia River Fisheries compact and accelerated sea grant and oceanography programs.

WE must help make a case to the national government for the setting of nationwide welfare standards and for Washington’s assumption of the financing of the total welfare program. Despite the 30 per cent increase in the new state budget for welfare, I still feel, as governor, like the principal accomplice in a plot to degrade, miniature and poorly clothe and house thousands of the crippled, the elderly and the innocent young.

Among other changed to emphasize to Washington is the essentiality of setting up education appropriations in a timely fashion --- letting the states know in march or April what will be available so that local budgets can be fashioned accordingly with certainty instead of confusion.

Education as much as anything except taxes --- and they are scarcely separable --- is a paramount concern in the 47 states where legislatures meet this month.

This administration has suggested that we take off where we left off in the 1967 special session, using the same proposals for establishing current school district tax bases, applying and financing a limitation and raising state support of local school operations to 50 per cent.

It is now apparent, however, that we must seek a more equitable limitation formula than that contained in the special session legislation.

I am confident all of us can work out these problems in the context that Oregonians will continue to meet the costs of educational quality.

I am confident you will move a program of substantial tax relief and tax reform on to the people for an early vote.

I am confident of you earnest endeavors also to evolve the soundest possible legislation on reorganization, institutions, commerce, law enforcement, environmental cleanliness and wise use of resources.

Resources mean people as well as the water and earth and their products. Whether they be the residents of a farm labor camp or racial ghetto or dwellers in affluence, all should stand equal before the law, regardless of age, color or gender.

However, hundreds of thousands of Oregonians have suffered needless dental disease because they were children without fluoride in their water supply.

Women are discriminated against by abortion laws that are callous tools of shame instead of useful social instruments.

Injured workmen receive pitifully inadequate payments during the period of temporary total disability.

Sharply qualified, keenly concerned Oregonians are barred from the voting booth because, at 18, 19, and 20, they are “too young.” And they must be appalled at the striking evidence that Oregon election laws are lacking in other areas as well.

Then there is the other and greater continuing injustice we inflict on other young adults: our men in uniform to whom a confused society says by implication, “Go die in Viet Nam or go to prison --- and, in either case, many of your fellow Americans will curse you.”

The power of redress of many wrongs reposes in our legislative chambers. There can even be a cheer for those far-away warriors in the form of new and higher standards for veterans farm and home loans.

But whatever action we take --- sweeping or compact --- the important thing is that it point in the right direction, that it be designed to help us traverse, whole and healthily, the tunnel of the 1970s.

The daylight at the other end is a long way into the future, but the historic voyagers to the mood dwarfed distance and cowed ancient dogma, giving us earthlings a fresh sense of the worthiness of our planet.

May it ever reign, as Astronaut James A. Lovell, Jr. called it, “A grand oasis in the vastness of space.”

There is not more felicitous part of the “grand oasis” than our Oregon. And keeping Oregon a quality part is what being legislators and governor is all about.

So to the work of the session, each of us hopefully determined to avoid overt partisanship.

So to the work of the session, each of us hopefully aware that too often the citizen has heard issues torn to tatters on the basis of who thought of them first --- on the basis of who will get the credit and who will get the blame.

So to the work of the session, each of us hopefully realizing that youth, nor resources, nor time are given us in unlimited q quantities.

There is just so much of each allotted to us to use as we may. Then the contract is dissolved.

When past generations faced crises, however, they did not live in an age of international simultaneity of an age of the instant replay. They had the lax afternoon luxury of slowness on their side. They could “wait and see.” They could fall in spectacular depth with the dubious comfort of knowing the “future generations” which their actions had damaged were far enough in the future that a confrontation would never happen.

It’s easy to step aside --- ignore the call --- shirk a duty --- take the selfish route --- when that day of assessment is comfortably beyond the time of all living men.

WE don’t lie in separate generations anymore, well-insulated from each other by pages and pages of history. There are several generations of us here at once. IT is hard to face the questioning stare of one’s contemporaries.

Destiny has suddenly become a thing of more and shorter growing seasons. No largest can be bequeathed. We reap together, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, so help us God.

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