Governor Earl W. Snell's Administration
Inaugural Message, 1943
Source: INAUGURAL MESSAGE OF EARL SNELL GOVERNOR OF OREGON TO THE FORTY-SECOND BIENNIAL LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY JANUARY 11, 1943 SALEM, OREGON
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker; Members of the 42nd legislative Assembly of the great state of Oregon:
IN assuming the high office of Governor of my native state I feel impelled by a sense of gratitude to express my profound appreciation for the honor conferred. However, I recognize full well that my appreciation may best be expressed by a dedication to the fullest extent of my energy and capacity to a faithful performance and acceptance of the many duties and responsibilities incumbent upon the Governor of this great commonwealth.
As members of the 42nd Legislative Assembly, You are meeting during on of the most critical periods in the history of our nation. Your are meeting at a time when our country in engaged in a great global war --- the extent and scope and likeness of which the work has never known. Upon victory depends the continuation of all that we cherish and hold dear --- our liberties, our homes, our sacred institutions --- the American way of life. Representatives of Nazi tyranny and Japanese despotism --- cruel, greedy and ruthless --- have as their goal world power and conquest and complete subjugation of all peoples of all the earth. Their designs are so all-inclusive and so fraught with danger and potentialities that they stagger the intellectual powers of human comprehension. The over-all progress and advancement of the allied forced during the recent months have given us cause for increased hope and encouragement. Yet it is only the beginning of a determined march --- a march that is difficult but --- that leads down that long road to victory.
OREGON’S WAR RECORD
IN keeping with her duty and glorious traditions of the historic past Oregon once more has demonstrated her unswerving loyalty and patriotism by establishing records which are the envy of the entire Union.
WE are reminded that in the Spanish-American war an Oregon regiment composed entirely of volunteers was the first to land in the Philippines, and the first enter the walled city of Manila.
In the first World war Oregon in proportion to population led all states of the Union in furnishing volunteers; was first in the nation to recruit all National Guard quotas to full war strength --- mobilization overnight of the first national Guard regiment in the country to be ready for service; first to complete machinery for the operation of the selective service act, and in addition Oregon established the enviable record of over-subscription of each and every one of the four Liberty Loan drives held during that period.
Oregon’s record during this present emergency is equally significant. Oregon has been at the top in several phases of civil defense activities, and for a period ranked first in the nation on purchase of individual defense bonds. Oregon has consistently exceeded is quota. In the fall of 1940 when the President ordered the expansion of the National Guard our quota was filled in one week to lead the entire Union. Most significant, however, is the fact that once again Oregon led the nation in volunteers for both the Army and Navy.
Many of our Oregon boys have already made the supreme sacrifice in this great cause of liberty, truth and justice. Our sympathetic hearts are filled with grief as we share the emotions of the mothers and fathers, and the sisters and brothers, the wives, sons and daughters of those brave men who gave the full measure of devotion. Yet no greater honor, no greater glory hath any man.
I wish to suggest that here we pause during the deliberation of this assembly to rise and bow our heads in a moment of silent tribute. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
May it please God that the day of victory --- final and complete --- be hastened and made secure.
Many of you members of this Legislative Assembly are occupying places of responsibility I your various communities in connection with America’s all-our war effort. I know that you are anxious to return to those important posts at the very earliest opportunity.
This is no ordinary session. These are no ordinary times. During normal times the Legislative mill overtimes has become clogged with unimportant and unnecessary legislation, resulting in delay, confusion, added expense and a lengthened session. Such incidents should not occur in the ordinary times and certainly not now when every available ounce of energy and effort should be directed toward hastening the day of victory. Time, truly is of the essence. With essential industries and gushiness generally pleading for help; with various war activities and defense programs in dire need of additional assistance, the men and women of this Legislative Assembly together with those whose presence is required, should not be detained here a moment longer than is absolutely necessary.
Therefore, I suggest for your earnest consideration that legislation at this session be confined to measures having to do with the winning of this war; post-war planning or legislation essential to that period; taxation, particularly property tax relief; consolidations and economy programs; necessary appropriation measures and only such other legislation as determined to be necessary and essential to the welfare and well-being of the people of our state and deemed to be of such urgency as necessary of enactment now.
Your responsibilities as members of this 42nd Legislative Assembly are greater than those heretofore attendant upon legislators any time in the history of our state. When the resolution of adjournment sine die is adopted may it be said that the 42nd Assembly of the Oregon Legislature, meeting at a time when our country was involved in a great world war, was one of the most forthright, consistent and businesslike sessions in Oregon’s history. To that end is pledged the fullest cooperation of the Executive department.
The founders of the government of the state of Oregon, under the provision of Section one of Article III of the Constitution, wisely ordained that the powers should be divided into three separate and distinct departments of government --- the Legislative, the Executive including the administrative, and the Judicial. The constitution further provides, however, that the Chief Executive shall, from time to time, make certain recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.
In keeping wit the suggestions for a short session and under the provisions of the Oregon Constitution I welcome the opportunity to suggest certain specific recommendations for your earnest consideration.
The present Oregon State Defense Council was organized June 1, 1941, by executive order of the Governor. It was formed promptly following a request from the President of the United States. By virtue of the method of its creation it has lacked statutory authority as a legal entity or state agency and as such could not receive nor disburse state funds. With approval of the state emergency board, and supplemented by the assistance of personnel from several state departments, its activities have been financed from appropriations made at the 1941 Legislative session for expansion of activities of the state police and organization of a state guard.
Thousands of loyal and patriotic Oregonians are contributing freely of their time and effort in carrying out the responsibilities assigned to them under this program which is designed for the protection of home and fireside and for the general welfare of our citizens.
There have been mistakes and misunderstanding to be sure but when we consider that the civilian defense program was, and is, a voluntary, emergency organization virtually set up over night, our appreciation for the splendid service it has rendered to our state is increased.
A civilian defense bill taken from the uniform act as adopted by many state of the Union will be submitted for your consideration and approval. The proposed measure carries an appropriation, as funds sufficient from other departments are no longer available. It is hoped to at no emergency will arise which will make necessary and appeal to the emergency board. However, it will be necessary to rely to considerable degree upon supplemental aid and assistance from departmental personnel and in the use of equipment. The full success of the program depends upon the continued help and assistance of individuals, groups, organizations and private and public agencies.
The Oregon National Guard was mobilized and called into federal service by executive order on September 16, 1940. AS a result of this action the 1941 Legislature passed an act authorizing the creating of a state guard and outlining certain of its responsibilities. Unearth provisions of that act a state guard was organized December 10, 1941, and has functioned as such since that date. By the arms and provisions of that act the organization will crease to function as of January 21, 1943, the date of its termination as set forth in the law.
The need and importance of a continuation of the activities of a state guard during this emergency are well recognized, I am sure. In recommending its continuation and keeping in mind than the present act expires January 21 --- ten days hence --- I suggest that the emergency clause be employed and that attention be given to early enactment.
It is my recommendation that this Legislature enact legislation extending benefits to Oregon members of our armed forces serving in World War II. Among other things those benefits should include real estate loan privileges, veterans preference, educational opportunities and vocational training.
The recommendation contains no thought or suggestion of financial award because the extent of their patriotism and unreserved devotion cannot be measured in terms of money. From the cities and farms they came --- thousands of the finest of Oregon’s young manhood --- relinquishing gainful employment, yielding educational pursuits, sacrificing aims and ambitions of the morrow, to engage in one of the greatest battles for freedom the work has ever known. The pages of history will never reveal greater courage, bravery, patriotism and sacrifice than demonstrated by American boys and Bataan and the Philippines, at Wake, Guam, the Solomons; in fact, on land and sea and in the air on far-flung battlefields of the world.
PRESERVE REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT
WE here at home, in addition to the responsibility of making every possible contribution to our all-our war effort, have a very distinct and definite obligation --- an obligation to preserve and maintain constitutional representative government and the unrestricted sovereignty of the political subdivisions of these United States of America.
Thus will we keep faith with those who are contributing most toward the preservation and perpetuation of our free institutions.
We are fighting a war which among other things is designed to preserve democracy. What a sad commentary ‘twould be if in preserving democracy abroad we lost it here at home.
Taxation has always been one of the most complex problems of government. To meet the demands of the citizenry for orderly government, for schools, for police and fire protection, sanitation and modern facilities; city, county, and state institutions, streets, bridges and modern highways --- all of these, and more --- necessitates the raising of revenue. Civil government cannot exist without revenue. Yet, there are definite limitations as to taxes and beyond which are placed in jeopardy the immediate social and economic stability and security of such government. Full consideration should be given to the question of finding ways and means of reducing property taxes --- eliminations, reductions, non-essentials and consolidations ---both sate and local. Every consideration must be given to the relief and encouragement of home ownership. It is obvious, of course, that state and local governments cannot be adjourned, but with federal taxes the highest in our history and with further increases scheduled, this question takes on added significance and importance.
In many localities of this state the federal government has acquired large real estate holdings which thereby have income tax exempt.
I suggest that this Legislature memorialize the Congress to enact legislation at an early date which will reimburse adequately those taxing districts which thought such federal ownership are being deprived of a considerable portion of their revenues.
Considerable relief will be forthcoming in the distribution to the school districts of surplus income tax revenues for property tax offset. In conversation with leaders of the proponents of this recent initiative having to do with this question, and as quite generally known, I learned that bills will be presented to clarify and possible ambiguity in the intent or working of the act to the end that the monies in question shall be used definitely for property tax relief, but that there shall be established the policy of equalized state support of public schools. I concur in these objectives. The effective date of the tracker of these funds should likewise be clarified by legislative action. If this honorable body decides affirmatively upon such action may I suggest that consideration be given to the advisability of an earmarked reserve fund.
From time to time there have been advanced proposals calling for a reduction in the rates on the state income tax. That these proposals have merit I concur and agree, and, particularly so in view of the tremendous burden of federal income taxes. Yet paradoxically, recently increased federal income taxes mean lower state income taxes; and, here then according to recent figures and estimates, gives cause for considerable concern. According to conservative estimates from reliable and informative sources state income tax payments, because of increased federal payments, will be reduced automatically by 15 per cent this year and next year by as much as 30 per cent --- nearly one-third. While in normal years reductions of state income tax might well be in order, in view of an automatic reduction of 30 per cent next year, I caution that full, long-range and careful consideration should be given to any suggestion for reduction at this time.
I wish to acknowledge with appreciation the splendid services of Mr. Guy Cordon in connection with matters of taxation. His valuable assistance was made available without salary through the courtesy of the Interstate Association of Public Land Counties. It is recognized full well that in the space of a few weeks only cursory examination and consideration can be given to a question so important and complex as that of taxation. An effective committee might well be organized to study this problem thoroughly. We want the lowest taxes possible. We want the fairest and most equitable distribution possible to obtain. We want to attract and retain industries. We want to develop our state and it resources. Much depends upon this important problem of taxation --- a question which reaches our into the homes and daily lives of each and all of our citizens.
I recommend that the administrative duties and functions of the World War Veterans’ State Aid Commission and the State Land Board be consolidated.
Such consolidation affords an opportunity to coordinate the renting, sale and disposal of state-owned real properties and permit uniformity in the valuation thereof; to permit standardization in the handling of loans, collections, foreclosures and contracts; to consolidate t he activities of field personnel permitting a maximum of flexibility, uniformity and economy in administration, which together with a reduction of administrative personnel should reflect substantial savings and at the same time provide a more efficient service for all those utilizing the facilities of these departments, now and in the future.
MILK CONTROL BOARD
I recommend that the Milk Control Board be abolished and the administration of the act be lodges with the Department of Agriculture under the supervision of the Director of that division. This would further consolidate the administration of state laws relating to agricultural pursuits; would centralize control over office and field personnel, inspection services and general rules and regulation as provided by law, which should effect savings in salaries, and eliminate duplication of travel and general expenses of investigators, auditors and inspectors.
BANKING AND CORPORATIONS
With the same general view in mind of economy and efficiency in administration I recommend the consolidation of the duties and functions of the State Banking Board and the Corporation Department under a division to be known as the Department of Banking and Corporations
At present the State Tax Commission is composed of three members appointed by three members of the State Board of Control. However, the appointive power lodged with the Board of Control marks the limit and extent of that board’s jurisdiction and supervision over the policies, responsibilities and administrative duties and functions of the Tax Commission.
I recognize that there is considerable opposition to any change in the laws affecting the administrative setup of the Tax Commission, and which opposition, among others, includes groups and organizations of state-wide significance. That there is basis for their contention, there can be no doubt. I recognize, too, that there is a wide difference of opinion among legislators themselves. Were it not that I am convinced of the merit of the following proposal and confident that it would reflect economy and efficiency in administration I would hesitate to suggest consideration at this particular session.
I recommend that a single Tax Commissioner appointed by and directly responsible to the Governor be substituted for the present three-man commission now appointed by, but not responsible to, the State Board of Control.
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT APPOINTMENTS
Oregon now has four congressional districts. In connection with the appointment of the membership of several boards and commissions, the law provides for three members and yet calls for representation from each congressional district. In the laws creating the many state boards and commissions the following general language appears in at least six of those acts: --- “Board to consist of three members appointed by the governor, one from each congressional district.” Those six boards are:
State Highway Commission,
State Board of Barber Examiners,
Liquor Control Commission,
State Milk Control Board,
Oregon Real Estate Board,
State Sanitary Authority.
It is recommended that appropriate amendments be made which will reconcile the provisions of these measures and remove by clarification any confliction brought about by the recent creation of Oregon’s fourth congressional district.
Much has been said and written about the problems and difficulties which we shall face during the post-war period. Many of these problems are recognized to be national in scope and application --- some of them international --- yet right here in our own state and in our own communities awe have certain definite responsibilities and obligations. We must lend every effort to all-out prosecution of this war, yet it is timely indeed that thought and study e directed toward developing plans for the transition period that lies ahead. The uncertainty as to the date hostilities shall cease is not justification for delay in shaping future plans for action.
I do not share the view that a post-war depression is inevitable. There will be great demand for change-over equipment and materials; transportation facilities now strained to the utmost must be replaced and repaired; projects and improvements heave been deferred; there will be shortages to fill in equipment, materials and supplies; new buildings required, public and private; highways, roads and bridges to be constructed and repaired; housing programs, prefabrication, new products and developments.
Yet we must look forward to potential problems of unemployment immediately following the war. WE must look forward to the rehabilitation and reemployment of the boys in our armed forces when they return home. We must prepare now for emergencies that might develop during that period of transition.
I therefore recommend the reaction of a substantial reserve from surplus revenues and other sources which seem to be practical and sound. It should also be made possible to invest such funds in United States War Bonds, which would serve the two-fold purpose of providing sound interim investment and of promoting our all-out war effort. Like authorization should also extend to counties, cities and other political subdivisions.
I recommend further that appropriations be made at this session of the Legislature for much needed new buildings and improvements at our state institutions and agencies, and for such additional services necessary to raise within proper limitations institutional standards. Construction of new buildings must necessarily be delayed until the close of hostilities because of shortages and priorities but such delay will coincide with a post-war program.
ADDITIONAL SURPLUS AND RESERVES
I recommend also that $150,000 of the surplus revenues in the hospital accident fund collected for motor vehicle operators be t transferred to the state highway fund, there to be earmarked with other reserve funds for use following this war emergency. Further, that permission be granted for creating reserves from racing funds which have been distributed to the counties, the Pacific International Livestock Exposition, Oregon State Fair, Pendleton Round-Up, Eastern Oregon Livestock show, and Northwestern Turkey Show, such reserve funds to be used following the war for plant expansion, repairs or improvement.
COMMITTEE ON POST WAR
I recommend further that there be created a committee known as the “Committee on Post-War Readjustment and Development’, such committee to include a membership of 15 and composed as follows:
The chairman of Ways and Means Committee of the Senate,
The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the House,
The State Budget Director,
Director, Department of Agriculture,
Director, Geology and Mineral Industries,
State Highway Engineer
Representative of the School of Economics or Business Administration at the University of Oregon,
Representative of the School of Engineering at the Oregon State College,
Six members to be appointed by the Governor.
This committee should be charged with the responsibility of devising programs and methods, and coordinating plans of action for the post-war, demobilization and transition periods; of promoting actively the industrial, mineral, and agricultural resources of our state; cooperation with other agencies and groups, individuals and organizations, both public and private, all to the end t hat the committee’s work may contribute materially to sound, practical, orderly and satisfactory solutions to the important problems that lie ahead.
This must not be just another committee. There is important and necessary work to be done. Questions of unemployment, the development of our state and its resources, the rehabilitation and reemployment of our boys now in the armed forces of this country are questions not to be taken lightly, The appointment to the committee of state officials, well informed and advised on Oregon’s resources and problems to be considered should expedite the work to be undertaken. Others added should be equally qualified in their particular fields. A full-time capable and able executive-director should be selected by the committee.
WE could write pages of tribute to our senior citizen for the valuable contribution they have made toward the growth and development of this great state and nation. Pages could be utilized --- an properly so --- in reciting their many sacrifices --- in recounting our obligation to those loyal citizens of another generation for their vision and foresight and resolute determination, all of which contributed much toward the freedom, happiness and prosperity which we of this generation have enjoyed. Would that we might pass onto the younger generation a similar heritage.
However, to every thoughtful American, a grogram which provides sufficient financial assistance for our senior citizens is sound . . . is timely and practical. And, such assistance should not b e on the basis of charity but rather on the basis of earned security . . . of right and decency.
During the current biennium the over-all assistance budges which includes old-age assistance; relief; aid to the blind; dependent children; crippled children and child welfare services, totaled in round numbers $21,700,000. The estimated revenues contained in that budget were to be derived as follows:
Revenues under the Knox Act______________________$6,800,000
State general fund appropriation____________________$2,450,000
Federal match funds______________________________$7,750,000
The average old-age assistance payment over the biennium was approximately $24.
KNOX CONTROL ACT
May it b e said here that so far as the Knox Control Act and liquor revenues enter into this question, promotion of sales and the desire or profits are in direct opposition to the underlying principles of temperance and control which are fundamental to the spirit and intent to the Knox Control law.
The budget for the coming biennium, on the basis of the present schedule and taking into consideration the amount of cash on hand, together with anticipated revenues, provides for an average payment estimated to reach approximately $34 for old-age assistance. Furthermore, that schedule has been projected with the complete elimination of the general fund appropriation raised from state general taxes, which were levied for this purpose during the current biennium and which totaled $2,450,000.
Both the federal and state laws provide for a maximum payment of $40 per month. We must bear in mind that the basis of need is also included in the federal law. However, I am confident that we are all agreed, that in view of increased prices and present-day costs, $40 per month is little enough to provide sustenance and reasonable comfort for these elderly citizens. Therefore, I recommend that we provide an additional among to approximately $3 per month per capita which when matched by the federal government will provide the approximate $40, designated as the maximum in both state and federal law, In any event it seems highly advisable in view of contingencies to supplement these funds from other sources. Several suggestions have been presented: to reenact the 1941 general fund appropriation; use monies from surplus funds or enact measures providing for special revenues which would grant permission to earn, or receive as gifts, and among on the basis of the proposed schedule of not to exceed $10 per month.
IN my opinion these additional revenues should not come from property taxes nor should the counties be asked to assume any of this portion. Counties should be provided with every possible assistance. Therefore, I recommend the enactment of the following proposal:
That public utilities be brought under the provisions of the Oregon excise tax law and an equivalent amount of revenue be used for old age assistance. At the present time utilities are expressly exempted from the Oregon excise tax law. If additional funds are deemed necessary consideration should be given to data on certain nonalcoholic beverages or an amusement tax. There will, of course, be opposition to, and arguments against, any method proposed. Yet this matter is before us for solution and I submit that we should not look to property taxes, but on the contrary every possible consideration should be given to property tax relief.
There is much that can be said in favor of National Pension Act but his problem for ma state point of view is imminent and immediate. According to my understanding of the present act it is not the purpose or intent at any time to prescribe definite rules of living for these senior citizens yet the maximum payments when qualified should require less detail and thereby reflect savings in costs of administration.
IN this inaugural address and for reasons previously mentioned I have purposely refrained from discussion problems of agriculture, forestry, dairying, education, highways, and transportation, labor, mining, power, fish and game, and other important phases of social and economic activities over which state government exercises certain controls and jurisdiction. In many instances state departments having jurisdiction can proceed satisfactorily for the duration without the necessity of new laws or amendments. Others can make certain necessary adjustments within the scope and authority of laws and regulations now effective. In some cases amendments may be in order. However, these are days of rapid changes and constant adjustments. I know personally that members of this assembly have given much thought and study to vital and important questions of the day and of current problems of the state and its political subdivisions. And, undoubtedly remedial legislation has already been prepared.
However, if in the next few weeks additional items develop which are determined by the Executive departments to be urgent and of sufficient import they, together with recommendations, will be submitted forthwith for the consideration of this honorable body as prescribed by the Oregon constitution.
We must keep in mind, however, that many of our problems cannot be solved by legislation.
OLD OREGON TRAIL CENTENNIAL
This year, 1943, marks the hundredth anniversary of the blazing of the Old Oregon Trail on into the Willamette valley and of an historic meeting at Champoeg which centennial anniversaries should be observed with fitting ceremonies appropriate to time and conditions.
During the years that I have been a member of the State Board of Control I have been privileged to serve with Governors Meier, Martin, and Sprague --- with Treasurers Holman, Pearson, and Scott. I feel that Oregon has been extremely fortunate in the type and character of the men who have occupied these important and responsible positions. Governor Charles A. Sprague, my predecessor, has served this state ably, efficiently and well.
I desire to express here my appreciation for the courtesies and consideration extended.
As elected and appointed representatives of the people in this 42d Legislative Assembly, you are meeting at a time when the over all problems of government are more momentous than at any time in all problems of government are more momentous than at any time in our 84 years of statehood. The people of Oregon have confidence in your ability, and capacity, and your determination to perform notable public service. Their appraisal of the results of our work where will be determined not by the number of bills introduced nor the volume of legislation considered but rather on the basis of a minimum number of important and timely measures considered and a minimum number enacted into law.
In all our deliberation let us, one and all, keep foremost in mind our country’s cause; the welfare of our boys in the armed forces; the value and importance of unity and undivided effort.
The processes of democracy and free institutions must survive --- and with the aid of a Divine Providence --- survive they will.
“ IN every turn of fortune, God has stood by the Republics. * * * Philosophers may argue as they will, and rationalism may draw its conclusions; but the mysterious power unexplained by either, has, fro the beginning of time, ruled the destinies of men.”