Governor Earl W. Snell's Administration

Governor's Message, 1947


Mr. President; Mr. Speaker; Members of the forty-fourth Legislative Assembly of the great state of Oregon:

This is the first peacetime assemblage of the Oregon State Legislature since 1941. During the last two biennial sessions we were gravely concerned with problems of defense, the state guard and selective service, Oregon’s performance was outstanding in the nation.

Indeed, the record of the deeds and accomplishments to those brave lads who went forth to battle from Oregon is one that will long stand in the annals of history. Among others, we need but reflect upon the heroic deeds of the far-famous Oregon units of the 41st Division whose battle-scarred colors and standards were returned to this proud state only a few months ago. Not only did they establish all-time records in combat, but their bravery, tact and determination were credited with ringing about the turning point in phases of the battle of the Pacific. Indeed their glorious performance reflects the thoroughness and efficiency of the training of the Oregon National Guard and stands out as a monumental tribute to that valiant soldier and leader, the late Major-General George A. White, his staff, his officers and men. Such, ladies and gentlemen, is but an example of the bravery and determination recorded by many other units to which Oregon boys were attached; including Navy, Marine and Air Corps, and, on battlefields throughout the world.

On the home front we established records of production which were the envy of the entire nation and which were reviewed by other countries in utter amazement. Oregon set the pace in the purchase of war bonds and likewise established national records on the financial front.


During these wartime sessions of the Legislature we were also planning for peace.

In 1943 I recommended the creating of a Postwar Readjustment and Development Committee. The Legislature enacted the measure. The contributions of this committee to the state and its political subdivisions in connection with postwar problems and planning are well known to all of you.

Also did I recommend certain measures designed to offer opportunity and assistance to our returning veterans. These you recall included loan privileges, educational assistance, veteran’s preference and the creation of a separate Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The legislature also enacted those measures. You will recall that those recommendations were made and adopted prior to the enactment of the Federal G. I. Bill of Rights. Certain of those measures were by necessity referred to the people. They were subsequently approved by the grateful citizens of this state. Never at any time was there thought of reward or compensation --- just opportunity.

As of December 31, 1946, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs had received a total of 513 loan applications, 362 of which were granted for a total amount of $793,695.00. Eleven hundred and thirty-four applications for educational assistance were received, 1,123 of which were approved.


A few amendments to these measures may be in order but particularly do I recommend a substantial increase in the amount the state may loan to a veteran for the purchase of a home or a farm.


Housing is a problem of real concern to the returning veteran. It is a problem national in scope and application, brought about by limited construction of homes in the ‘30’s and virtually and absolute embargo on any type of home construction during wartime. The difficulties lay in the shortage of materials, equipment and supplies and in some instances a shortage of skilled labor. We have heard many reasons advanced but let us not forget that at the outbreak of war all of the mighty resources of this great country were marshaled behind one common goal --- production. Those vast resources were organized by the giants of industry and the best brains in the land; there was unity of purpose on every hand. It was a program backed by limitless billions upon billions of dollars; and yet it took us two years to get under full production.

The housing question while national in scope does present certain opportunities for local assistance. Oregon has been active and Oregon has gotten results, particularly in connection with our schools of height learning. Let not this session of the Legislature overlook any opportunity to be of further assistance in alleviating this problem which is really acute and serious. Local communities have very definite responsibilities which in many instances have been fully recognized. They too, can make certain contributions, even though at the time they may seem relatively minor in contemplation of the broad, over-all nation-wide problem.UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION

Although this Legislature will be concerned primarily with peacetime problems, we cannot dismiss completely from mind the fact that peace has not yet been officially declared. We cannot overlook the fact that doubt and suspicion and misunderstanding as between nations still exist. WE cannot forget that in some parts civil war is raging.

The United Nations Organization offers great promise. Let Oregon, along with all states of this great Union, support its ideals and principles with all the resources at our command. It must succeed. Otherwise civilization itself is places in jeopardy. To perfect such an organization demands time and patience. But until other nations manifest the same enthusiasm for agreement and understanding looking toward the same peace --- until the United Nations Organization offers definite assurance --- let not state and nation be too hasty in withdrawing troops and in scrapping our defenses as many both here and abroad would have us do. Indeed Oregon is as much concerned as any state in the Union. In some respects that concern surpasses many others.


I desire also to suggest that this Assembly by resolution or memorial urge strongly the importance of a free press and its close relationship to the all-important question of world peace.

With God’s help let us make certain that this time there shall be lasting peace. There can be. There must be. And, I firmly believe, there will be.


There will be many problems presented to this session of the Legislature to be sure. Yet those problems are no more numerous nor of greater magnitude than those presented to several Legislative sessions of the past. I am sure that the membership agrees that there seems no valid reason why the Forty-fourth Legislature should establish some sort of unpleasant record for being in session the greatest number of days in Oregon Legislative history.


One of the most important questions --- if not the most important --- confronting this session of the Legislature is that of taxes, finance, and budgets.

WE have presented for your consideration a balanced budget. There has been no indiscriminate slashing.

Requests submitted by the various departments of state government totaled $50,000,000.00. I am using even numbers for ease of following. Total appropriations for the last biennium equaled $30,000,000.00. Therefore, requests for the ensuing biennium exceeded the 1945 appropriations by $20,000,000.00. These increased requests reflect a laudable ambition on the part of the executives and administrators of the various state departments and institutions to improve the state’s services and facilities to the greatest degree possible, to the end that Oregon’s care, service, and opportunities presented shall be second to none. I endorse that ambition. Yet I realize full well that we shall never reach the apex. No state or commonwealth will ever arrive at the status of absolute perfection.

Also there will always be numerous demands for financing of new projects, new programs and additional fields of service.

How far shall we go? How far can we go?


It seems to me that the state’s position in this regard is very similar to that of the typical American home.

The obvious fact remains that we must live within our income, increase that income, or, go in debt.

AS far as the power and influence of the Executive Department may extend, there will be no deficits.

I am confident that the Legislative members are in full accord with that policy.


At the 1945 session of the Legislature I recommended that

“ provision be made for engaging the services of a nationally recognized firm of tax experts for the purpose of a complete survey, examination and analysis of all phases of our tax structure and report to the Legislature with recommendations as to the most attractive, advantageous and equitable tax system consistently possible for Oregon to devise.”

Although legislation is finally enacted did not conform with that recommendation, provision was made for the creation of a Tax Study Committee. It was a good committee and a hard-working committee. Members thereof in the order specified by the resolution were:

Honorable Howard C. Belton

Honorable Earl T. Newbry

Honorable Eugene E. Marsh

Honorable Giles L. French

George K. Aiken

Charles V. Galloway

Earl Fisher

Coe A. McKenna

William Howes

Kelley Loe

Harvey N. Black

George. C. Huggins

Judge Carl W. Chambers, Chairman

Mr. S. J. Barrick was selected as Executive Secretary and Director of Research.

The report of this committee is on your desk. You may not agree with all of its recommendations. I do not. Neither was there unanimity of opinion among the members themselves on all phases of the report.

The fact remains, however, that it does present a worthwhile analysis of Oregon’s tax structure and of the broad subject of taxation generally. The analyses, recommendations and statements of policy are worthy or your careful study and consideration.

Furthermore, the statistics and information contained in the report will be of great benefit in the deliberations of the members of this and other sessions.

I desire to commend the members of this committee on their loyal, faithful and conscientious service tot he state in fulfilling the responsibilities and obligations placed upon them by the provisions of the legislative resolution. Credit also is due Mr. Barrick and a score of others who made valuable contributions during the course of the study and compilation of the final report.

Many have inquired why did not the committee recommend a sales tax, either selective or general; why not a repeal of the income tax; why not elimination of the provision which permits deduction from state income tax of the amount of federal income tax paid? And, on and on. In that connection the report must speak for itself but I am confident that no member of the committee was of the opinion that any recommendation as to taxes would meet the approval of all segments of society.


I desire to submit that the budgetary recommendations, if adopted, should carry us through the 1947-49 biennium without a deficit and without the aid of additional revenues.

The amount of $50,000,000 representing the original requests was reduced by the Budget Division to $40,000,000 in round numbers. That figure still represents an increase of $10,000,000 over the amount appropriated last biennium. The increase is reflected in higher costs of merchandise, equipment, and supplies; in increased salaries, the state’s share of retirement pay, civil service, and certain other additions and increases allocated in the budget.

The greatest portion of the ten million dollar cut in requested funds was represented by reductions of capital outlay requests.

As you know, the last Legislature passed a ten million dollar building program for state institutions and our schools of higher learning. The measure subsequently was approved by the people. Three millions additional were appropriated by the Legislature. Also, provision was made some time ago for the construction of a state office building in Salem. While the plans and specification have been prepared for practically all buildings under that program yet due to economic conditions, shortages of supplies and the urgent need for veterans’ housing, the construction program has scarcely even started. And, although the extreme urgency and necessity are recognized by all who are familiar with existing conditions, I doubt seriously if it will be possible to complete the program during 1947 and 1948. Hence, the capital outlay eliminations seemed entirely justified.

The available revenue for appropriation for this biennium totals $35,000,000, which is $4,000,000 more than available during the last biennium. Subtracting the 35 million from the 40 million approved in the budget, and adding thereto the amount of deficiency appropriations, leaves a balance to be raised --- again all in round numbers --- of $6,000,000.


This budget deficit can be met by an amendment to the corporate excise tax law which would place those monies in the general fund. There are funds sufficient at the present time to balance the budget as submitted and leave a slight surplus.

I recommend such action.


If in the future the state is to meet the increased demands, the urgency of expanded facilities, the necessity for adequate salaries for its employees, state school support, and the higher costs for merchandise, equipment and supplies, some additional revenues for budget balancing in the future must be provided.

I recommend that this Honorable Body adopt the procedure suggested for balancing the budget for the next biennium and that it then proceed to give careful and deliberate consideration to the question of needed revenues for meeting obvious future requirements.


Furthermore, I recommend that any new major tax proposal be referred to the people at a special election called specifically for that purpose and that purpose alone; unless of course the Legislature in its wisdom determines that other measures emanating from this session, and to be referred, are of such importance as to demand a place on the special election ballot.


Section XI of Article V of the Constitution of Oregon provides that the Governor shall “give the Legislative Assembly information touching the condition of the state. . . . . “

It would require much time to report in detail, therefore, I shall condense the report and sketch briefly the highlights.


Oregon’s financial position is excellent.

Total bonded indebtedness from original issues of over 87 million dollars has been reduced to less than 16 millions. Highway bonds from a high of over 51 millions, no total only four million dollars. Veterans state-aid bonds total less than ten millions with equal offsetting assets.


All state departments are in a sound and healthy condition. Although in some instances understaffed and handling the greatest volume of business in history, the departments have been rendering outstanding service. Much credit is due the many able and capable administrators in state service.

The state institutions under the Board of Control are overcrowded, in need of repairs and new buildings, added facilities, and additional trained personnel. Yet I believe they are rendering better service to their patients and charges that at any time in the state’s history. Both Mr. Farrell and Mr. Scott have taken a very keen interest in the state’s institutions and are devoting much time to institutional problems. Much credit is due them for the progress that has been made. Oregon is fortunate in having the benefit of the knowledge, experience, and ability of such men as Mr. Farrell and Mr. Scott.


Oregon’s economic future is exceedingly bright.

New industries are locating in Oregon by the score. Exploration and research, both public and private, are progressing daily, looking to further development of our natural resources and industrial opportunity. Lumber, agriculture, dairying, fishing, and others have registered peak incomes. At the close of 1946, statistics disclosed the larges number of employed workers ever recorded on the peacetime records of the Unemployment Compensation Commission.

Millions of dollars of private capital are ready for new construction and expansion. A tremendous program for development of the Columbia Basin and the Pacific Northwest has been authorized. This includes irrigation, navigation, flood control, and power development. Included also is the Willamette River multiple-purpose project. This legislature and the people generally should make every possible contribution toward expediting the work on these projects. They will be of untold benefit to our state, the Pacific Northwest and, for that matter, the nation at large.

It is gratifying to note the progress that is being made as a result of cooperative effort in the design and location of dams together with added facilities to protect the natural propagation of fish, and industry so important to our state and the Pacific Northwest.


On August 25, 1945, I appointed a Special Forestry Committee, representative of a cross-section of interests, and charged them with the responsibility of making a complete survey and analysis of Oregon’s forestry program, but with particular emphasis on the Tillamook burn, fire prevention, and reforestation.

Members of that committee were:

Judge H. D. Kerkman

Tom B. Purcell

Morton Tompkins

H. J. Andrews

George T. Gerlinger

J. F. Daggett

E. B. Tanner

Claude Ballard

Kenny Davis

C. L. Jamison

Michael Bigley, a graduate of the school of Forestry of the University of Washington, forestry consultant, and formerly with the United States Forest Service was selected as Executive Secretary.

Indeed, the committee did make a thorough study, survey, and analysis of the problem. The very comprehensive report is on your desk. The committee finished its work May 18, 1946.

With the exception of the suggested program for the Tillamook burn virtually all of the recommendations have been put into practice. Some became operative prior to the filing of the report.


There are some 300,000 acres in the Tillamook burn. The state owns approximately 165,000. I recommend that the state acquire the remaining 135,000 acres and that this area be made a state forest.

The rehabilitation of this area imposes a long range program. Fire protection paths or corridors must be made. Acres and acres of snags must be removed. Surveys to determine the kind of trees to plant in various areas must be made. Finally then actual plantings must take place.


Estimates of cost range from five to twenty millions of dollars. Figures furnished me by the Forestry Department indicate that the cost will approximate six million dollars including purchase price. There should be additional funds for general fire prevention and forestry work as well as surplus emergency funds.


My recommendation is for a ten-year program.

I recommend that a law be enacted levying a 20-cent-per-thousand excise or service tax on all stumpage or timber cut in the state of Oregon, and such monies so raised be placed in a special fund to be used primarily for the rehabilitation of the Tillamook burn but also in the development of fire prevention and suppression programs and the promotion and advancement of the forest industry generally including wood waste research.

On the basis of a six billion board-foot cut per year such a tax would yield $1,200,000.00 per year or twelve million dollars during the ten-year period.

The industry would benefit in tax savings under this program. Federal tax deductions would average 35 per cent. State income tax because of legal implication and present difficulty in assessment with resultant small collections.


At the general election last November the people of this state approved an initiative measure providing for a basic school support fund.

The thirty million dollars necessary to finance the program during the next biennium have been provided in the financial and budget program as submitted and discussed hereinbefore.


The Legislature has the responsibility of providing the equalizing apportionment formula and the placing of responsibility for administration of the act. The law provides for annual apportionment and distribution in a manner that will “equalize educational opportunities and conserve and improve the standards of public elementary and secondary education throughout the state.” Care should be exercised in bringing about the fairest and most beneficial distribution possible. A combination of per capita membership and teacher allocation together with equalization features has much in its favor.


The basic school support fund is in lieu of both the 2-mill elementary school tax and the state school support fund. I recommend that the handicapped children’s law and financing also be brought under the provisions of the basic support law.

State support for our schools is timely. The greatest possible benefits under the basic school support fund depend to the considerable degree upon apportionment and administration.


I have long been a strong advocate of programs looking to the promotion and development of the tourist industry.

In my message to the Legislature in 1945 I stated that the annual income from the tourist industry was estimated at fifty million dollars and that the amount should be doubled. Very likely we attained that goal in 1946. And, with very little organized effort. Now let’s double it again. WE can do it. Ladies and gentlemen, the tourist industry is a big industry. It has tremendous possibilities and potentialities.


We must increase and expand our facilities and accommodations.

Let us give full support to advertising programs, host schools, park and highway improvement, historical marking programs, stream purification, Keep Oregon Green, and general conservation programs.


The State Game and Fish Commissions are undertaking ambitious programs of propagation. This is important and necessary not only as a tourist attraction but also for the pleasure and recreation of our own citizens. The Game Commission is adding a number of enforcement officers under the State Police in the interest of further conservation of our wild life resources.


No longer is the tourist business just a summer industry. It is now a year-round industry. We must place greater emphasis on fall and winter travel; develop and improve more winter roads and resorts. With little effort Oregon can become the winter wonderland for the tourist and vacationist. Already do we have such reputation for the summer traveler.


Any discussion of highway travel immediately brings to mid the terrific toll of death and destruction taken annually on our streets and highways. It is laterally appalling. It must be checked. Here in Oregon there were 478 deaths and more than 60,000 accidents on our streets and highways last year.

AS you know the administration of highway safety programs is lodged in the office of the Secretary of State. Undoubtedly that office will have proposals to offer. Let me urge you to give all possible support to programs calling for increased emphasis on enforcement of traffic laws, on safety education and engineering. This flagrant killing must cease. Oregon can and should point the way. I am sure we all recognize the need for additional traffic enforcement officers. And bear in mind that members of the State Police did not participate in the general salary increase for state employees. Their salary schedule is set by law.


Another matter under the subject of highways is the paragraph on Trade Barriers which appeared in my legislative address of 1945.

That paragraph reads as follows”

“I have always been a strong advocate of uniform motor vehicle laws throughout our nation. Bottlenecks and trade barriers at state lines should not exist. To impede progress, development, and reasonable free flow of commodities and commerce will ultimately react to the detriment of all phases of our economy --- business, industry, agriculture and labor alike. This Legislature should determine this matter on the basis of what is best for Oregon --- its economy and its welfare.”


I endorse the policy of city and county participation in certain state funds.


A proposal has been advanced for increased tax on aviation gasoline, the monies derived therefrom to be distributed to the counties or cities. An examination of the record discloses that the proposal would produce a small amount of revenue and hardly sufficient to justify discrimination as between states with consequent losses to us. Uniformity in this regard is highly desirable. It might be in order for Oregon to appoint a legislative committee to meet with similar committees from our adjoining states for a discussion of this and related subjects.

The development of airports in our state, however, is a very important matter and should receive all possible encouragement.


I commend to you for careful study and appropriate action the recommendations contained in the report of the Special Committee on Rural Planning and Zoning.

This committee was composed of Dr. Orval Eaton, Dean Seeger, Frank Howard, Judge Nelson B. Higgs, F. L. Phipps, Herman Kehrli, Judge Grant Murphy, Honorable Paul L. Patterson, Honorable Max M. Landon, Ronald E. Jones, Kenneth H. Spies, Fred A. Cuthbert, A. D. Newman, Ray W. Gill, R. H. Baldock, Tom Watson, Frank Shull, Fred Miller, with the Honorable William Bowes, Commissioner of Public Works, Portland, as chairman.

The recommendations emanating from this committee were the result of a state-wide study and investigation followed by careful and deliberate consideration.


During the past year officials in the Board of Control office together with the Superintendent of the Boys’ Training School have been making a rather exhaustive study of my proposal to establish boys’ camps for youthful offenders or delinquents not in the cc lass that are committed to school at Woodburn. I personally visited two such camps in California.

I urge all of you to read the very able report on juvenile delinquency and its control filed by the state-wide Juvenile Delinquency Committee.

It is well worth your while. Also there will be filed for you information and guidance a report from your own Legislative interim committee created at the 1945 session.

After studying and reviewing the various plans for the establishment of boys’ camps, I arrived at the conclusion that the most desirable arrangement is one that provides for county or county-city ownership with the state participating in operational costs. Two or more counties might join in the establishment and operation of a boys’ camp. Present facilities no longer in use such as C. C. C. camps might well utilized. There should be a per capita ceiling on the amount of the state’s participation and certain standards should be provided.

Such a program not only would contribute much toward the readjustment of boys leaning toward delinquency but should alleviate to a considerable degree the burden now placed on present state institutions and local facilities. After all, what’s more important than the rehabilitation of our youth? Investment in the future of these boys is just good business. It is important to bring about adjustment to a useful place in society before ht youngster’s life pattern is formed; before it is too late and before he becomes a charge of the state for an indefinite period. I recommend the passage of a suitable enabling act.


I desire also to renew a recommendation for the construction of an intermediate institution just as soon as the availability of materials and supplies and general economic conditions permit.

Such an institution for first offenders and for segregation purposes likewise can be considered as an investment. More than tat, as our state continues to grow and increase in population, the time is rapidly approaching when expansion of present facilities must be made.


Another Legislative interim committee from the last session was charged with the responsibility of making an inspection and report on report on Oregon’s custodial institutions including county and city jails. The report will speak for itself but I predict that the information submitted, together wit the report on local jails furnished as a result of a survey shocking to the membership of this Body as well as to the public generally.

The interim committee report undoubtedly will contain recommendations for improvement.


Reports are current that regulatory labor legislation to be referred to the people will be resented to this session of the State Legislature.

Public announcement has been made that Congress is now considering labor legislation. Most states undoubtedly will hesitate to take hasty action and particularly so in view of the nation-wide uniform features of Congressional acts.

All are agreed I am sure --- industry, management, labor, public officials, the people generally --- that there cannot be monopolies with arbitrary, dictatorial powers on the part of either business or labor, or, on the part of government itself. If so, democracy as such ceases to exist.

All are agreed also, I am sure, that jurisdictional disputes and certain secondary boycotts are utterly inexcusable and have done much to injure the cause of labor.

Oregon’s labor relations during recent years are reported to be the best in the nation. May that record long continue.

Rights, privileges, security, and fair and just treatment must be recognized by both management and labor. In the final analysis, doubt, suspicion, mistrust and miscomprehension must be cast aside in favor of a spirit of mutual cooperation, mutual helpfulness, and mutual understanding.

IN recent years labor in America has enjoyed the greatest uncontrolled freedom of action and organization perhaps ever enjoyed in this or any other country. The American people want it just that way --- the greatest freedom possible --- so long as our great democratic industrialized processes and the competitive free enterprise system continue to work properly and function efficiently. If they fail, we all know what the answer will be.

As far as the immediate future is concerned, retention of those uncontrolled freedoms of action rests largely with labor. The extent of restriction or the degree of regulation by Congress, or by the states in regular or special sessions of their respective Legislatures, rests nor necessarily with labor as such but largely upon the shoulders of those who are charged with major responsibilities of organized labor leadership.


Time hardly permits detailed discussion of several other subjects important to the state and its people.


Briefly, however, and without attempting to cover all of them, might I suggest that benefits to workers under both the Industrial Accident Commission and the Unemployment Compensation Commission can be and should be liberalized.


The Unemployment Compensation fund now totals $70,000,000.00. Experience rating during 1946 represented a saving to employers of six million dollars. I recommend continuation of experience rating.


With the Employment service returned to the state and resultant coordination of activities, improved service to both employer and employee will ensue.

Widows’ pensions under the Industrial Accident Commission should be increased.


Except in certain instances employers under the Industrial Accident Commission should be permitted to file quarterly reports.

The Commission’s accident prevention program has produced remarkable results. It should be expanded.


Old age assistance payments in Oregon now average approximately $45.00 exclusive of medical and dental care. The payments cannot be defined as lavish in view of present-day costs but it is a record of which Oregon can be justly proud. Amendments will be presented with reference to clarifying county participation provision and county hospitalization. The budget as presented shows and increase over the last biennium.


Prior to the reading of this message perhaps, you will have read the public announcement of the appointment of Justice James T> Brand by the War Department to the War Crimes Tribunal in Germany.

This appointment now only is a distinct honor to Justice Brand but also is honored recognition of the type and character and ability of Oregon’s Supreme Court. This appointment is a glowing tribute to Oregon.

A bill providing for an amendment to Chapter 296, Oregon Laws of 1941, to clarify any possible ambiguity as to certain public officials being called into active service will be offered to this Legislative Session.

I know that Justice Brand’s appointment will be or has been received by your with great acclaim. IN view of the fact that the War Department orders specify that the court upon which he sits convenes on February 1st, 1947 in Germany and also that he must report in Washington, D. C. not later than January 20th, one week from today, it is respectfully suggested that passage of the proposed measure be expedited to the greatest extent consistently possible.


The constitution of the state of Oregon ordains that the powers of government shall be divided into three separate departments --- the Legislative, the Executive, including the administrative, and the Judicial.

Indeed, our founding fathers acted wisely and well.

Although as decreed by the fundamental law, our departments are separate and distinct, yet ours should be a joint effort in meeting and solving the problems with which we are confronted. To that end I pledge to you the utmost cooperation on the part of the executive office and all departments, boards and commissions under its jurisdiction.

There will be different ideas, different viewpoints, and different approaches to be sure. Yet underlying all these will be that one objective . . . that common goal . . . a bigger and better Oregon --- morally, materially and spiritually.

May the blessing of Heaven attend us and guide us in all our deliberations.

State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

Phone: 503-373-0701 • Fax: 503-378-4118 • reference.archives@state.or.us