Governor Charles A. Sprague's Administration
Inaugural Message, 1939
Source: Inaugural Message Of CHARLES A. SPRAGUE Governor of Oregon To the Fortieth Legislative Assembly 1939
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Assembly, and Fellow Citizens:
In the ceremony you have witnessed I have taken over the reins of government in Oregon from the strong hands of Charles H. Martin who has served as governor through four difficult years. I join with you in paying tribute to his courage and competence, and express the fervent hope that I may prove equal to the contingencies of the next four years.
An inauguration affords an eminence from which to view the political scene. The war which ended twenty years ago gave a profound shock to political and economic equilibrium. The late and persisting depression has repeated the shock which the insurgence of certain political forces in Europe now accentuates. It is vain to hope for a return to old stability based on 19th century relationships. We cannot restore old patterns of living any more than we can put back the colors in the geographies we studied, on the present map of Europe. Recent events prove that human society has not lost its dynamic quality.
Our constitution and laws were molded in the climate of 19th century liberalism. Since then the industrial revolution has transformed economic and social life. There are those who try to press this 20th century pattern into the narrow frame of 18th century legal conception. And there are other who would throw away the frame entirely. The political strain of our day arises from the clash of these schools of thought.
Over the world political and economic pressures have reacted against the idea of democracy. Authority is invoked to take up the slack in loose, popular government. The distinction between the new dictatorships and the old autocracies lies in the present glorification of the state instead of the person in power. This means nonetheless the submergence of the individual. While the aims of the present national administration are far different from those of European dictators the consequences of its centralization of power are apt to be somewhat similar: the submergence of the individual in the institution of government.
It is precisely at this point that the greatest danger in modern trends of government lies. For the individual does not exist for the state, but the state for the individual. In the long history of humanity the most precious spark is that of individual freedom. It is not too much to say that all human progress flows out of the initiative, energy and resourcefulness of the individual which flower best under conditions of liberty. Individual freedom must be tempered with responsibility. The erosion of self-reliance which comes through mass dependency leaves sterile the will and puts a brake on future progress.
The problem of our time therefore is not merely to preserve democracy as a working idea in government, but to maintain freedom and responsibility in an age when economic changes have made obsolete many of the political formulas which appeared to secure them to the individual. It is necessary therefore to take a realistic view of the present preliminary to an accurate forecast of the future. Some observers fall into error, for what they regard as fixed stars in the political heavens, safe to chart a course by, may be dead meteors seen through the rigid focus of fixed opinions. Democracy is not a revealed religion in politics. It will succeed only as each generation adapts political processes to meet the variation of the times.
These are generalization which may seem remote from Oregon and its problems. Yet I think we must have a clear view of the national and international scene if we are to make government play its proper role within the state. I charge the legislature and the citizens of this commonwealth to keep government the servant and no the master o the people; to hold to the faith that proper object of government is the welfare of the individual; and to be bold but not reckless in altering the devices of government to make it function more successfully in effecting that aim.
ECONOMIC PROBLEM OF OREGON.
The most pressing problem before this state, and the nation too for that matter, continues to be economic: how to increase the income of the people and provide for its fair distribution. This is not a suitable time for discussion the national aspects of the problem; but it is appropriate to take stock of Oregon’s economic situation.
The first thing needed in this state is a restoration of confidence among business leaders. They have been in such prolonged distress through retardation in trade, labor disputes and new burdens of regulation and taxation that they have become discourage. The last election should serve as a tonic, proving to them that the world of private business is not coming to and end. This should encourage fresh undertakings in commerce and manufacturing, small as well as large, which is the real genesis of recovery. I trust business men in all communities of our state will get a fresh grip on themselves and with new enthusiasm and courage take up the responsibility of forging prosperity without waiting for miracles from Washington or Wall Street.
A major trouble with Oregon is that its economy is out of balance. We import seven times as much in value of manufactured goods as we export. Our exports are chiefly raw materials or semi-finished products of agriculture and forests. Our balance of trade, as of 1929, was actually a minus four and a half million dollars.
According to the 1930 census 82,000 persons in Oregon were employed in agriculture; 52,000 in timber and wood industries; and only 22,000 in the remaining basic industries. We need industrial expansion to provide greater employment for our citizens. We need it also to provide better markets for agricultural production. Our farmers and orchardists and livestock growers suffer now because so large a part of their production must be shipped to distant markets at heavy freight cost. Local consumption would save this charge and greatly improve the position of our farmers.
I propose no special concentration of industries and want no “shacktowns” and factory slums. Wise industrial development will erase these slums and build up more thriving communities like West Linn, Coquille, Klamath Falls, St. Helens and other centers.
From the time when Rev. Jason Lee set up a sawmill at the mouth of North Mill Creek in what is now Salem, Oregon has been converting its great forests into lumber. This harvest of timber has advanced so far that now there are vast areas of logged-off lands which are virtually a desert. Many of these tracts have reverted to counties for non-payment of taxes. Divisions of government face hard times as the timber wealth is removed; and the whole economy of the state is endangered unless the timber industry of the state is conserved and tree growth renewed for the future.
This subject is one of pressing importance and under general discussion among public officials, persons interested in logging and lumbering, and leaders in public life. Some progress toward a solution of the problem has been made, but much more needs to be done and needs to be done speedily.
As early as possible cutover lands should be classified, under machinery now established. A better understanding is needed among state and county administrative bodies and private interests as to methods to be pursued and perhaps a clearer definition of the land classes. The experiment in grazing of seeded areas in the logged-off land country offers hopes of developing a substantial livestock industry in Western Oregon.
I am convinced that the wise handling of natural forest lands calls for their consolidation under public ownership except for those lands in the hands of strong private interests capable of carrying them through long growing periods. The public forests should remain public and only the timber crop sold as it matures.
This brings up the question of title to these lands. I am not in favor of enlarging the area under federal ownership. It seems to me that these cutover forest lands should either be acquired by the state, or if retained by the county that the management should be in the hands of the state which is the only agency capable of giving uniform and adequate administration. Net proceeds from these lands should flow back to the counties and taxing units.
I contemplate the creation of a strong forestry department for reforestation of these lands, for proper protection against fire and pests, for orderly marketing of mature timber, and maintenance of forests on the basis of sustained yield. The state must be prepared to expend money for this purpose, but this expenditure is an investment in future prosperity.
New legislation is needed to enable the state to acquire lands from counties or private owners or to enter into arrangements with counties for management of reverted lands. The state should qualify under the federal Fulmer act under which the federal government is to supply funds for acquiring and reforesting lands.
The state should move with caution in this undertaking; but it is of prime importance that it move.
Largest source of wealth and of income in Oregon is agriculture and its kindred lines: horticulture, livestock and wool growing. On the whole agriculture has given a good account of itself in this state. Yet it is unfortunately true that returns to the farmer remain inadequate to compensate him fairly for his labor and investment. Here where we produce a wide diversity of products we have not a single farm problem, but many. There is no single and simple solution. The federal government is attempting to provide relief for farmers; but we should not rely solely on federal aid. The ultimate solution will come as farmers adapt new farming practices in line with changed conditions, and as producers are enable to bargain with greater equality in the exchange of commodities and services.
Oregon has been progressive in its legislation in the interest of agriculture and generous in its contributions for support of agricultural research and extension teaching. It should continue to do everything practical to upbuild the farming industry.
Further development of mineral resources, conservation of wild life, and promotion of the recreational resources of the state will add much to the income and to the happiness of the people who reside here.
I come now to the subject of taxation. This is supposed to be the bugaboo of this session of the legislature. It generally is. Constitutional restrictions interfere with easy solutions of the revenue problem. The 6 per cent limitation puts brakes on increases in property taxes and the bar to adding the emergency clause to revenue measures forces legislative enactments to run the gauntlet of the referendum. These restraints are not wholly bad by any means.
My study of the tax question convinces me that it is not so critical as has been advertised. There are three points of pressure: first, demand for lower property taxes; second, demand for additional state aid for public schools; third, demand for larger sums for public assistance.
As to the first, the facts show that the payer of property taxes has enjoyed relief both actual and relative. From the peak of $50,794,633 of property taxes in 1929 the roll has declined to $40,317,392 in 1938, a reduction of 20 per cent. Again: property taxes amounted to 88 per cent of the total of all state and local revenues in 1922; 72 per cent in 1930; and 62 per cent in 1937,--a steady and market decrease. Again, if we eliminate the property tax paid by utilities, the taxes levied against locally assessed property amounted to only 49.62 per cent of the total of state and local revenues for 1937.
Moreover the principal levies on property are those of units closest to the people: schools, which used 43.66 cents of the 1938 tax dollar; and cities and towns which used 24,46 cents. Public demand rather than state laws accounts for most of these local levies.
Statistics as to tax delinquency and land foreclosure are not so alarming as they sound. The generous spreading of tax payments over terms as high as 40 years has served to retard collection of taxes. Lands which have reverted are principally cutover lands whose owners do not want to wait a century for a new crop, marginal farm lands and vacant city lots whose speculative value always oozes in times of adversity.
Lands eventually adjust their values to meet their tax loads: changes of the last decade in the latter have not been adverse to the former. The troubles of the property-owner are due to the low state of business rather than the burden of taxation. It is true that the burden for the people as a whole. The only way that can be done is to shrink the costs of government, and that is something the people appear quite unwilling to do.
I should like to see property taxes further reduced: but I see greater hope for relief in the stimulus to commerce and agriculture and industry which will lift the level of income and thus lighten the pressure of taxation. Meantime there are specific things which might be done: first, standardize and make more thorough the system of assessment, assigning the assessment of timberlands to the state tax commission; second, be more energetic in collecting property taxes; third, create tax conservation boards in all counties with authority to pass on local budgets; fourth, cut down the public debt (with particular reference to cities). The net debt of the state and civil subdivisions has decreased nearly $50,000,000 in the last eight years, a noteworthy gain.
I pass now to the subject of education, particularly as it relates to taxation. Oregon is at the bottom of the list of states in amount of state aid for elementary and high schools. There is wide disparity and gross injustice in school tax rates. Of the 2,085 school districts of the state 681 levy no special tax for elementary schools. For other districts the taxes range as high as 50.7 mills.
The time has come for a major operation if we want to do justice in school taxation and provide fair and adequate schooling for the children of the state. We cling to an archaic multiple district system at a time when we have abolished small road districts and when transportation facilities bring central schools within easy access. I oppose making large stat contributions to be poured down the funnel of wasteful and inefficient multiple school districts. I am aware of opposition to the county unit system; and I do not propose to force that on the people. I am genuinely friendly to the idea of keeping the rural school fixed in the rural environment. But it is a mistake to stick blindly to the system of small school unites. Experience has amply demonstrated the value of larger units.
I want to call your attention to a recent exhaustive survey of the common school system of Washington made by a competent staff. This survey led to recommendations for the reorganization of local school districts to provide larger units of administration and areas of attendance. Conditions here are similar to those in Washington and the same recommendations apply here.
I endorse the following program for school reorganization where counties do not come under the county unit plan:
1. Uniform county tax for elementary and high schools, as proposed by the state superintendent of public instruction, with additional tax-levying power for districts, under limits.
2. District reorganization to reduce the number of districts, to be made by a board composed of the county school superintendent, county highway engineer, county judge, chairman of the non-high school board, and three representatives of school boards in territory affected, to be named by the ex-officio members. County plan to be approved by the state board of education.
3. This reorganization board to designate approved high schools, with district per capita costs of non-residents to be paid by home districts.
4. Provision should be made for adjustment of assets and liabilities of existing districts and for creation of joint districts in adjoining counties where required.
5. Provide for future revision of districts.
The third factor in the tax problem is the financing of public assistance. This state and nation have embarked on expanded programs for social security. The emergency which inspired this extension of aid has been prolonged seemingly into permanence. Government has undertaken the task of caring for the impoverished, for dependent children, for the blind and for the aged. I believe the people want assistance continued for those whose need is real and whose independent resources are too meager for self-support.
The time has come when we need to coordinate more fully the various phases of the social security program. Emphasis should be put on rehabilitation and return of individuals to self-support. This means cooperative effort on the part of the relief administration, the employment service and the unemployment compensation division.
Oregon has not been remiss in meeting its obligations to the needy. The amount of money expended under the direction of the state relief committee has increased from zero a few years ago to $15,000,000 in the last biennium. The budget for the next biennium calls for nearly $22,000,000 for public assistance.
The demand for old-age pensions has been most insistent; and I want to see Oregon increase its contribution promptly so that the present legal maximum of $30 a month will be available to all needing that amount. Increases in old-age assistance however should not come by unfair shrinking of contributions to those on relief who are below age 65. If legislative appropriations are made in bulk to the relief administration however, the division can be made as the needs justify.
Your task, and mine, is to ascertain if the funds available will provide adequately for the assistance needs of the state during the biennium; and, if not, to devise new sources of revenue to supply the needed funds.
My study leads me to this conclusion: the state and counties are supplying about all the revenues they can for these purposes at the present time. I know of no source which would supply revenues in volume which would be approved by the people on referendum. I do not favor the imposition at this time of a sales tax or a gross income tax.
The only change I submit for your consideration is to consolidate the intangibles tax with the income tax, and to change the personal exemption in the latter to a fixed credit against the net tax. The object is to simply the tax system, to lighten the burden on holders of small amounts of intangibles and sustain the productivity of the two taxes on at least the present basis.
My conclusion is that our present tax structure placing reliance on property and income taxes is sound, and if the legislature will apply rigid economies in appropriating money the revenues will be adequate for essentials of government during the next biennium, including substantially increased sums for public assistance.
One subject which has bulked large in public attention is that of labor. Encouraged by friendly federal legislation and more friendly administration organized labor moved aggressively to enroll non-union workers within its ranks. The organizing effort in this state led to violence and crime: assault, bombings, arson. Finally the forces of law rallied, and at the insistence of Governor Martin the perpetrators of criminal acts were apprehended, tried and convicted. I pledge you that the gains thus made will not be relinquished during my administration.
To curb abuses of powers recently acquired by organized labor an initiative was prepared and submitted to the people at the last election and adopted by them. I felt and still feel that the initiative was defective in its drafting and too drastic in its terms. Its sponsors defend it and its enemies announce their intention to test its validity in the courts. Let the law pass therefore to the test of the court and of experience.
I cannot refrain, however, from submitting to you the plan which had matured in my mind for the curb of some of the abuses which have grown up in the labor movement. That plan in brief was to carry through the basic idea of the Norris-LaGuardia act and Wagner act, freedom of organization, and give to the workers full right of self-decision, free from intimidation or coercion by employers or labor organizers. This decision, recorded in election held under public auspices, with proper protection of crafts as bargaining units, should be respected by employers and labor organizations. Such a plan would cure a defect sure to show up in the operation of the initiated law, namely its failure to define the term “majority” or to set up machinery to ascertain the choice of the “majority”. I may submit measures showing how this plan could be incorporated into the laws of the state.
My greatest concern, however, is not for more law or less law on the subject of labor relations but for a healthier attitude on the part of employers and employees and leaders in the labor movement. All parties have suffered severely from the prolonged disputes that have wracked Oregon the past four years. My plea is for a season of labor peace; and my strongest effort will be directed toward keeping our industries operating with labor fully employed. I urge the legislature to keep the same goal clearly in mind.
PRISON AND PAROLES
The time is ripe for the improvement of our penal system. The state prison is overcrowded and there is too little occupation for the inmates. I recommend adding a story at the prison annex and using that institution to house the more worthy of the mature inmates and of youthful first offenders. I hope also that the board of control can develop new occupations for inmates, and can coordinate better the farm and industrial work of the several state institutions with the purpose of making them more nearly self-supporting and providing useful work for those able to do it. Honor camps in state forests can be used to relieve the overcrowding at the prison and to rehabilitate those assigned to them.
An interim committee ahs studied faithfully the subject of paroles of prisoners. It has prepared a bill embodying the fruit of its labors. I recommend it for passage and particularly approve of the plan for an enlarged staff for supervision of parolees. The added cost should be more than offset by savings in prison cost and in prevention of return of parolees to prison.
The state highway system, launched over twenty years ago, is one of our most valuable assets. It is not completed, and never will be completed. We must take a long-range view of road problems and set our pace on the basis of a cost we can afford. Financing by long-terms bonds should be avoided; present debt should be scaled down steadily.
Immediate needs are the completion of the primary system in Eastern Oregon, reconstruction of the Pacific highway, construction of water-grade highway up the Columbia and rebuilding of the Coast highway at its southern end. Many improvements on other roads are also justified. These needs call for all money available in the immediate future.
At present cities of the state are pressing demands for a share of the receipts of the gas tax. These revenues are public revenues, and the law-making authorities have the responsibility of determining their use. I urge the legislators to give fair hearing to those who urge and those who oppose an allocation of gas tax revenues to cities. My own study of the problem inclines me to the opinion that, in view of the smallness of the sum now available for construction, the public interest will be better served by continuing the present program, with the highway commission directing the expenditures of these funds on the state highways both within and without cities.
It this state electric power has been a “hot” subject for a great many years. It still is. Bonneville is here, but dissension attends discussion of its utilization. The law covering administration of the federal project distinctly gives favor to publicly owned or cooperative power districts; but in Oregon private utility companies are well entrenched and to date most of the efforts to create public power districts has been rebuffed by the electors. Controversy has also raged over uses of the energy, some of the groups friendly to public power being opposed to large scale industrial use of the power at or neat the dam site.
The latter controversy is unfortunate and in my opinion unnecessary. The platform of the late George W. Joseph, who gave the big impetus to the public power movement in 1930, urged development of our water power resources so that “cheap power may be made available for industrial purposes and domestic uses in our cities and rural communities.”
Julius Meier, who was elected to carry out the Joseph platform, made this statement in his inaugural address eight years ago:
“Water power is the magic key to industry and with our water power developed cheaply and in abundance Oregon’s future greatness and prosperity is assured.
“With our water power so developed every home—city and rural alike—would be electrically lighted and heated, and the wheels of Oregon industry electrically driven.
“With our water power so developed Oregon’s manufacturing plants would be able to compete with the commerce of the world and new plants from all quarters would seek location within the state’s borders.”
I think we need to recapture the vision of George W. Joseph and Governor Meier and utilize these abundant water power resources for town and country, for farm and factory.
Whether portions of the state within the economical transmission range of Bonneville shall undertake public districbution fo electric energy is a question squarely before people for decision. Several of the municipalities of this state are successfully operating electric power systems. In view of the sympathy of federal officials for public distribution of power it is altogether probable that Oregon communities will desire to create such utility districts. I believe a revision of the present law on the subject is in order. Changes should allow for the issuance of revenue bonds, for contributions by districts in lieu of taxes, for reasonable restraint on taxing power and for dissolution of districts if after a term of years they remain inactive.
I urge that the problem be considered fairly and honestly and that a good workable law be written. This law should not be so loaded with restrictions that the very act will impede formation of these districts; and it should not be drawn so loosely that the public will become the prey of grafting promotes.
In view of prospective industrial development in the vicinity of Bonneville, a joint committee of the Pacific Northwest Regional Planning Commission, the Washington State Planning Council, and the Oregon State Planning Board urges the appointment of a committee representing Oregon and Washington to study a possible interstate pact for the protection and development of the scenic and recreational resources of the Columbia Gorge. I recommend the appointment of a senator and two representatives to be named by the presiding officer of each house as Oregon members of such a committee.
The present plan of liquor control is giving fair satisfaction. State control should not, however, be regarded primarily as a revenue producer. The main purpose of the plan was to provide a workable substitute for prohibition which would eliminate the evils of bootlegging and attendant corruption and still hold down intemperance. I plan to administer the law in the spirit of that original purpose.
The legislature in 1935 modified the 1933 law to permit the sale at package stores of wines in excess of 14 per cent alcohol, by weight. The general retailing of these “fortified wines” has been attended by serious abuses. It is my opinion that the public morals would be improved if the sale of “fortified” wines were confined to state stores. I would not approve of allowing the sale of wines by the glass at public bars. I join with the liquor control commission in urging a change in the law to give the commission closer control over so-called clubs which are in fact bars for sale of all kinds of liquors for consumption on the premises.
If legalized parti-mutuel betting at race meets is to be continued I recommend that the state’s share be increased to 3 per cent. I also recommend that the state’s share be covered directly into the general fund and that definite appropriations be made from the general fund for the support of the present beneficiaries.
There are certain reforms in state fiscal policies which would, I believe, be productive of good.
First, appropriations by the legislature should be made to cover fiscal years (which end June 30th) rather than calendar years. At present departments are forced to operate the first quarter of a biennium without funds, trusting that the legislature will supply the necessary money. I recommend that the assembly at this session make appropriations to cover the normal biennium, and supplemental appropriations for the six-month period ending June 30, 1941. This will bring appropriations into harmony with the present accounting period and end the season of technical deficits at the beginning of bienniums.
If this is done the residue in the continuing appropriation for relief and old-age assistance should be returned to the general fund. Future needs would then be covered by appropriations for the term.
If this is done the residue in the continuing appropriation for relief and old-age assistance should be returned the general fund. Future needs would then be covered by appropriations for the term.
Second, I recommend a redefinition of the terms used for budgetary classification in order to simplify accounting and do away with present conflicts in interpretation of the law.
Third, I believe that the so-called self-sustaining unites should be under budgetary control of the legislature; that residues in particular funds of such units (aside from fiduciary funds) or at least the excess above reasonable reserves should revert to the general fund at the end of the biennium.
Fourth, unexpended balances of continuing appropriations should revert to the general fund if not used within a term of years, say three, after their appropriation. The carrying forward of such unused appropriations indefinitely makes the state’s financial situation uncertain.
Inasmuch as the state relief administration now exercises important functions in the care of dependent children I recommend that the child welfare commission be abolished and its duties be transferred to the state relief committee.
The Willamette Valley project has been approved by the federal government and funds for beginning the work are expected to be provided by the present Congress. Legislation for local cooperation is needed, but care should be taken that the gate is not left open for excessive costs.
County courts are now required under Section 44-201, Oregon Code, to levy annually a road tax of not less than one mill nor more than ten. This should be changed to permit the courts to levy a road tax of not to exceed ten mills.
The practice in gold dredging of sluicing away fertile topsoil and leaving in wake of the operations piles of gravel is a fit subject for the legislative inquiry. The destruction of rich alluvial lands will be an enduring loss to the state, regardless of the compensation to the present landowner. The assembly may very properly study question and ascertain what regulation, if any, is practiced in other states or is needed here. I have no desire to cripple the mining industry; but the state must protect its interest in the land which must support future generations.
Salaries of county officials show hopeless inequalities. It ought to be possible to work out a salary schedule based on population and wealth of the several counties, protecting incumbent officials against any reduction in their present salaries. I do not like the present practice of special enactments favoring particular officials.
The terms of most of the administrative officers of the state under appointment by the governor are for four years. These terms should be made to extend to a date coincident with or shortly subsequent to the date for the beginning of the governor’s term. This will permit the incoming governor to organize his staff of department heads without the necessity of making removals.
The 1935 special session created a milk board and a bakery board, the former with strict price-fixing powers. While the administration of the milk board law has led to considerable public criticism it is my belief that some form of control is needed at least in the principal consuming centers.
The bakery board is a sort of stepchild of the NRA. It is really a trade association which got under the tent of the law. It imposes regulations and encourages price stabilization and during its life prices of bakery products have been extremely rigid in spite of declining costs of ingredients. Unless the state is prepared to authorize similar codes for all other lines of business I see no reason why this industry should be given special favor. Therefore, I recommend that the board be abolished.
The commission appointed to provide for Oregon’s participation at the fairs in San Francisco and New York in 1939 abandoned representation at New York. It asks for some additional appropriations to enable it to make a creditable showing at San Francisco. I approve of this request within reasonable limits. Let Oregon join heartily with its neighbor state of California in making the exposition at Treasure Island properly present the attractions and resources of the great Pacific Coast.
The state planning board has made numerous valuable studies during the biennium. I urge legislators and public officials and citizens to make more liberal use of its reports and its services. I recommend continuance of the work of the board though I may recommend some changes in its organization.
The practice, now optional with county relief committees, of requiring recipients of old-age assistance to deed or mortgage their homes to the relief administration meets with serious objection from the old people. I recommend that the law be changed to eliminate this requirement, providing, however, that contributions made by the relief committee shall stand as a preferred claim after the death of the recipients.
The state and civil subdivisions and schools for the most part make no provision for retirement annuities for their employees, though that is now a requirement of industry. Government should not be a laggard in this regard, and steps should be taken soon to establish some pension system for public servants.
This concludes the specific recommendations I have to offer in conformity with the constitutional duty of the governor to “give the legislative assembly information touching the condition of the state, and recommend such measures as he shall judge to be expedient.” I have tried to be frank and forthright. These ideas and recommendations are submitted to you for consideration on their merits.
NEW STATE CAPITOL
The new state capitol is finished, except for the landscaping of the grounds, and within a short time the new library and office building across the plaza and the new heating plant will be ready for use. This will conclude the present responsibilities of the state capitol reconstruction commission. As I anticipate no new construction within the capitol group during the biennium the commission should terminate its existence and file its records with the secretary of state.
At this point I wish to pay tribute to the members of the commission for the great contribution they have made to the state in carrying forward their task. It has been one of great difficulty, because of the limitations of funds and of ground area. The new buildings and the capitol plan are the best testimony of the success of the commission’s labors. Worthy of note too is the fact that the work has been done without taint of corruption and without waste and extravagance. May I suggest that it would be fitting for the legislature by appropriate resolution to express the gratitude of the state to the members of the commission for their faithful and honorable work.
I take personal pride in being the first governor to be inaugurated in this new capitol. I know that you take similar pride in being members of the first legislative assembly to hold its session in these comfortable and beautiful chambers.
The building is different from the old capitol; its lines and its interior still seem a bit strange. But it is a structure noble in design, capably constructed and splendidly embellished. High praise is due the architects, the supervisors, the contractor and the workmen and artists who have created this capitol; and the thanks of the state are due also to the federal government and the Public Works Administration for their contribution and cooperation. This building stands as a fit symbol for Oregon. Its solid bulk and study construction are typical of the substantial character of the state. Its simplicity in line and the practical plan for the interior reflect the modesty and thrift of our people. Its capture of the modern note in the unique central mass, topped by the heroic figure of a pioneer, is a sign of willingness to adventure which ought to animate those in responsible leadership today.
God grant that we who labor within these marble walls may perform as conscientiously and as worthily as the artists and artisans who have fashioned and reared this magnificent edifice.