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Our educational system, as we know, needs drastic expansion. One of the major strains to which it is subjected comes from these exploding suburbs and the declining population in the poor cities which are at the heart of the metropolitan area.
Last year, for the first time in a good many years, the Federal Government got back into the field of Federal aid to education. The Senate has already passed an additional aid to education bill at this session limited to the veterans of the post-Korean war.
I am confident that the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare will report a general education bill which will be debated during the course of this session. The problem is not only how we are going to keep the education facilities of our old cities and their hard cores going, but what we are going to do about a new, suburban school district area where there isn't any industry to provide part of the tax base with which to finance the necessary schools.
In eastern Bucks County, Pa., we have one school district in which are located the million dollar plants of the United States Steel Corp. That school district is living in clover because the steel corporation pay a substantial enough real estate tax, to enable that school district to have the best teachers and best schools of any community in the State, and yet right next door is another school district which has nothing but residents. All of the male members of that community work in the steel mills and there is no industry there at all.
Now that school district is poverty stricken. They have had to raise taxes by 600 percent in the last 5 or 6 years. This is folly.
To some extent, the State can move in and help, and it should and does help, and we all want to put as much of the financing of education at the local level as we can. But this gets us into problems of regressive tax systems as opposed to progressive tax systems.
The inability of many of these school districts to get the money necessary to run really good schools, despite the State equalization program in my State, brings increasing pressure on the Federal Government to make the contributions from its income tax and its tax on luxuries and excise and on customs which will make it possible to come at least somewhere close to the idea that every American boy and girl ought to have the same opportunity for free, public education and that we should not penalize either the citizens of South Philadelphia or the citizens of Mississippi while at the same time the citizens of lower Marion Township in Montgomery County, Pa., one of the richest townships in the world, are able to afford a splendid school system so far in advance of these others that one begins to wonder what one means by equal opportunity under the law.
I don't know the answer to this problem, either, but it certainly demands careful study.
I do not need to stress to either of the two Senators listening to my statement the problems of States' park systems, regional parks, national parks, city parks, and other recreational areas. With the increase in leisure time, there is a great need for wider public recreational facilities.
I am very proud of the efforts of the cities in my State, of the progress they have made in that regard.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is doing something, though not as much as it might. We know how our national park system has been starved. We know everybody cannot go to great national parks in the West, but we have national monuments and national parks in the East also.
Should there not be some coordinated planning to be sure that every resident of a metropolitan area is within reasonable motoring distance of a wilderness area; “wilderness" in the broadest sense of the word?
Perhaps you can't get a wilderness area, but at least a country area, a relaxation area, a place where there are flowers, trees, and grass, a place where automobiles are not running by at the speed of 60 or 70 miles an hour within sight and hearing. Yet, there is no coordinated plan as to the extent to which local, State, and Federal governments should get together in this field.
Now, Mr. Chairman, these are some, but not all of the specific problems which I would hope that a study commission such as recommended in my bill would deal with.
Let me turn briefly to the provisions of the bill but, before doing that, let me say immediately that I have no pride of authorship and welcome any amendments which the committee might care to make, and which would make this commission a more effective agency for doing what is needed to be done. I would be most happy to have the benefit of the thinking, not only of the members of the committee, but of the committee's very able staff.
S. 1431 would create a commission of 18 members to make a careful study of the problems I have been discussing and to report back to the Congress not later than February of 1961.
Now, while I hold no particular preference as to the composition of the committee, I would like to state briefly, the reasons why I suggested that there be more legislative than executive members.
It was my feeling that this job was primarily, but not exclusively, a legislative one under the Constitution; that the formulation of policy with respect to the proper impact of the Federal Government on these problems which we have been discussing was something in which the legislative branch should take the lead, but in which the executive should have a very real say.
A commission of 18 has been proposed. It could be 9, it could be 36. It could be somewhere in between. But I felt that this commission should be representative of both parties and, therefore, I have provided for four Senators from the majority party, two from the minority party, or four representatives from the majority party and two from the minority party, and six representatives to be appointed by the President, two of whom should be Governors of States having major urban problems, one from each party, and two should be selected from among the mayors of cities in the United States, with only one from each party, and two from the heads of the Federal agencies who have the principal burden of dealing with present Federal policies in the areas we have been discussing.
Now I have, since the bill was introduced, seen a request from an organization representing the counties of America urging that they should have representation and this seems to me to be wise because the counties are deeply interested in this.
It has been suggested that in many instances the city managers are more knowledgeable with respect to this problem than mayors and perhaps the bill should be amended to increase the number the President should appoint from the municipalities or to say that he could appoint either mayors or city managers as he saw fit.
I think it is important that we should include members of county groups. It has also been suggested there should be members of city councils. This, I would have no objection to, but I am not at all sure that it is wise.
I think that one important objective is that the commission should be a working one. We want people who will go to work and give the commission their time and effort. From my own experience as a mayor--and my good friend from Minnesota will check me as to whether he thinks I am right or not, I think it is going to be hard enough to get mayors who are willing to spend enough time on this job to make a real contribution.
I think it would be far more difficult to get members of city councils, but I hold no strong views on this question.
The Senator from Minnesota was a member of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, chaired by Mr. Kestnbaum, and he is more familiar than I am with the difficulties of bringing a large group together, making them do their homework, and concocting a report that is meaningful.
This commission should not be so large as to be unwieldly. It should not be so small as to be not representative. It should be big enough so it can hold hearings at any place in the country and still have a respectable number of the members of the commission present to hear the testimony.
Taking all of these matters into consideration, I concluded that 18 was about right, but, as far as I am concerned, any change in either the composition or the size of membership of the committee would be entirely satisfactory,
Perhaps I speak with more candor than I should when I say, again, that I hope that the committee will conclude that the majority of the members should represent the Congress and not the executive branch of the Government.
I say this, not from any partisan sense, but because we know that by February of 1961 we will have another President and another Cabinet and that many of the heads of the departments who are now serving will no longer be serving. This will be true regardless of which party the new President is a member, and I think a good deal can be said for the difficulty in getting people who are about to leave their Government service deeply and keenly interested in a study which looks to legislation which will not become effective or will not even be debated by the Congress until after their term of office has expired.
Yet, on the other hand, if it is thought advisable to increase the number of appointees by the executive department in order to get a city manager or two, or to get a county official or two, I would certainly have no objection.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I have seen the amendments recommended by the General Accounting Office.
May I say that I have no objection to any changes in the bill as recommended by the General Accounting Office, with one exception.
The General Accounting Office did want to put a limit on the salaries which the commission could pay to qualified staff people to do this work. This is perhaps a matter of my own philosophy, but I do feel that for this kind of work and indeed, for most of the hardthinking work that the Congress and the executive arm are called upon to do, the best is none too good. If we have to go high to get the best expert on metropolitan problems to be the executive director of this commission I would hope that we would have the authority to hire top-flight personnel.
I realize the political considerations involved. I realize the possibility of criticism, of giving a plush job to some individual. I would be prepared to meet that criticism, and say that the task we have set for ourselves will not allow mediocrity:
I am not saying we will not get mediocrity even if we have a top scale salary. It will be hard to get a good individual who is making a good deal more than the top civil service salary to come down, and take the job of director or even deputy director of this commission at a substantially lower salary than he is receiving.
With that one exception, Mr. Chairman, I am completely in accord with the suggestions which have been made by the General Accounting Office.
I must express my deep disappointment that the other agencies of the Federal Government did not see fit to give their views on this bill. I had hoped that they would.
I hope that the committee will not hold up its consideration of the bill because of the failure of those agencies to make any report.
Again, I say that this is a matter well within the discretion of the committee.
Now, in respect to the provisions of the bill which deal with the functions of the Commission and the duties of the Commission, I would like to point out two things.
Senator HUMPHREY. Senator Clark, I think I should tell you that the Bureau of the Budget is going to submit a statement on the bill. I gather that they want to hear all of the witnesses who are for the bill and they will then gather all the people they can to prove how wrong the witnesses were. It is a new way of submitting comments on the bill. Frankly, I
I don't like it. If I had my way I wouldn't even accept their statement. I guess we have to include it in the record, but we will do so under duress.
(The statement of the Bureau of the Budget previously referred to follows:)
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT,
BUREAU OF THE BUDGET,
Washington, D.C., August 3, 1959. Hon. John L. MCCLELLAN, Chairman, Committee on Government Operations, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : This will acknowledge your letter of March 24, 1959, inviting the Bureau of the Budget to comment on S. 1431, a bill to provide for the establishment of a Commission on Metropolitan Problems.
S. 1431 would establish a Commission of 18 members, 6 to be appointed by the President of the Senate, 6 appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and 6 appointed by the President of the United States. The Commission would make a comprehensive study of Federal policies and programs relating to the needs and problems of the Nation's metropolitan areas.
In reporting on a bill with a similar purpose in 1957 (H.R. 5565, 85th Congress), the Bureau of the Budget stated that:
** * * the planning, development, and conservation of our growing cities and metropolitan areas entail some of the most serious and complex problems of our times. Because these problems affect the national welfare, prosperity, and stability, a strong case can be made in support of a comprehensive study of the kind contemplated by H.R. 5565. Such an investigation would not commit the Government to specific programs, but it could provide facts and conclusions of value to the Congress, the executive branch, the States, and local authorities in meeting the needs of metropolitan and urban areas."
Since that time the executive branch has been increasingly active in exploring and attempting to deal with the problem areas to be studied by the proposed commission. The Office of the Deputy Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations, the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Public Works Planning, the Bureau of the Budget, and the departments and agencies have a continuing interest and responsibility in the field. The National Housing Council, established by statute, and the ad hoc Interagency Committee on Metropolitan Area Problems provide coordinating mechanisms. Also, the Joint Federal-State Action Committee is addressing itself to some of these problems.
Virtually all of the larger metropolitan centers and a great many of the smaller ones are now engaged in or are contemplating studies of their own needs and resources to meet the government services necessitated by a great increase in population. In these studies, certain Federal financial assistance for public works planning has been available. In addition, other comprehensive private studies of the needs and problems of metropolitan areas are underway, one of which will make available the kind of information this Commission would be likely to develop. In the light of these and other presently existing efforts, it is not believed necessary to create a study commission on metropolitan problems at this time.
For these reasons, the Bureau of the Budget recommends against enactment of S. 1431. However, should the Congress determine that the measure should be enacted, it is believed that S. 1431 would better serve the purposes for which it is intended if it were amended in certain respects.
First, it is believed that an 18-member commission might tend to be unwieldy. A smaller membership with greater discretion for the President in appointments would make for a more effective commission and still permit representation of differing backgrounds and points of view.
Second, to have the Chairman and Vice Chairman of a proposed Federal commission appointed by someone other than the Chief Executive is a deviation from accepted practice and further weakens the President's appointing power.
Third, since the Commission would be a temporary operating agency of the executive branch, it is suggested that section 2 of the bill be amended to delete the paragraphs providing for appointment of Members of the legislative branch. The Congress will have adequate opportunity to review and act upon the recommendations of the Commission when it transmits reports pursuant to section 3(b) of the bill.
Fourth, in view of responsibilities to be exercised by the President in connection with the work of the Commission, it may be desirable to provide that its report be made to the President not later than December 1, 1960, so that his views, together with the report, can be available when the 87th Congress convenes.
Fifth, section 2(e) of the bill provides for certain exemptions from conflictof-interest statutes. The Department of Justice is generally opposed to exemptions from such statutes. In reporting on bills with similar provisions, the Department of Justice has recommended that such language be amended to delete the references to sections 434 and 1914 of title 18, United States Code, and to section 190 of the Revised Statutes.
Sixth, section 4(b) of the bill should be revised to avoid a constitutional question concerning the authority of the executive branch to withhold information when its disclosure would not be in the public interest. The Department of Justice has recommended that the following language be substituted for section 4(b):
“The Commission is authorized to request from any department, agency, or independent instrumentality of the Government any information it deems necessary to carry out its functions under this act; and each such department,