Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 27, 1975 · Page 129
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 129

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 27, 1975
Page 129
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A (few tool ri PKs ft hrt Stale by Robert Walters I n Wisconsin, Democratic Cov. Patrick J, Lucey recently told state agencies that they must operate on $4.5 million less during the coming year than they currently are spending. As part of his contribution to the economy drive, Lucey has moved from the governor's mansion into his own house, saving $50,000 a year. In Iowa, Republican Gov. Robert D. Ray has slashed more than $300 million from this year's budget requests and has bluntly warned that government no longer can afford to spend extravagantly to cure society's ills: "We must learn to say 'no.' Cause* after cause has been presented to me-each one with a price tag on it. We cannot pay for all the government some of us would like to have. We must continuously ask: How much government can people afford?" All across the country, governors are confronting a drastic financial squeeze fueled by inflation, a decline in tax revenues and pressure to maintain the tradition of generous government spending. Until recently, many states had a comfortable surplus in their treasuries, in contrast to the federal government's growing debt. But according to one recent Congressional study, those surpluses will shrink this year to $3.9 billion from $6.5 billion. That study, prepared by the joint Economic Committee of Congress, predicts that 17 states will be forced to levy increased taxes this year. In addition, 22 states will have to slash spend- Cov. Patrick /. Lucey · of Wisconsin Cov. Thomas P. Salmon of Vermont ing by $1.9 billion to keep their budgets in balance. How critical the problem has become was pointed up at the recent National Governors' Conference in New Orleans, the discussions included repeated references to the financial straits of New York City and to the federal government's seemingly endless budget increases. "We have a new breed of governors --people who are younger than in the past, who aren't afraid of hard work and who have developed a variety of innovative approaches to government," said Vermont Gov. Thomas P. Salmon, a Democrat. "But unlike the federal government, we cannot print money and, in many_ states, we cannot consciously program a deficit" What is particularly striking is that many of the governors not only are talking about the problem but they are taking action to resolve it, often risking their reputations and political careers. For example, when Democratic Gov. Michael S. Dukakis moved into the Massachusetts Statehouse earlier this year he found that he had inherited a deficit of almost $500 million. le also found a civil defense unit employing 90 people, including the wife of the agency's director. Most of that operation has now been dismantled and cut to 20 employees. An obscure bureau ostensibly created to check on fraudulent auto accident claims employed 52 people, most of them political appointees in make- work jobs. The bureau was abolished. Dukakis stripped dozens of state of- ficials of government cars and other expensive perquisites of office. The governor himself travels to work by subway, while. Lt. Gov. Thomas P. O'Neill III drives around Boston in a battered old Volkswagen. In California, Democratic Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. surprised both liberals and conservatives by proposing a budget that calls for a growth rate in state spending half that of recent budgets by fiscally conservative Gov. Ronald Reagan. Brown, who, like Wisconsin's Lucey, chose not to live in the governor's mansion, has reduced his office budget by $200,000 annually and is calling for drastic cuts in state programs. This strong leadership is noteworthy because the nation's governors have generally been viewed as old-school politicians who did little more than serve as. ceremonial leaders, appoint cronies to high-paying jobs and turn to Washington when they faced serious problems. But now there is a growing group of state executives providing high-caliber leadership. The scope of their activities is demonstrated by these examples: When the country faced a serious ·gasoline shortage during the winter of 1974, it was- the governors--not the federal government--who ordered a 55-mph speed limit and alternate-day service at gas stations. Similarly, Congress has enacted little of the legislation proposed to prevent future Watergates, but a number of governors have been pressing for legisla- tion prohibiting conflicts of interest anq^. requiring financial disclosure by public officials. In Missouri. Republican Gov. Christopher S. Bond pleaded with the 'state legislature to enact campaign reforms. Rebuffed three times. Bond joined a citizens' group in a drive to place the issue on the ballot through the petition process--and the measure was approved last autumn 4 to 1. Until Republican lames E. Holshouser )r. took over as governor of North Carolina, the state relied upon a patronage*' system for highway construction and planning. The governor has ended that system. Before, the highway commissioners frequently were major campaign contributors, and the way a county voted in the last election often determined whether it would get new or improved roads. Gov. Edmund C. Brown of California Cov. Dan/e//. Evans of Washington When governors and political reporters discuss state government, one name that inevitably crops that of Daniel J. Evans, a Republican from the state of Washington. Evans' major accomplishments in? elude effective and. thoughtful leader-^ ship in environmental protection, fiscal reform, open government and assistance to minority groups. Earlier this year, for example, when some governors wanted nothing to do with the Vietnamese refugees, Evans led the way in establishing the first statewide resettlement program, to provide assistance for as many as 500 refugees. " Like many other governors, Evans believes the federal -government has become so bloated and bureaucratized that it no longer can effectively serve the needs of the people. He sees a shift in power, away from Washington's "enforced mediocrity" and back to state and local governments. "We're getting more innovation, experimentation and risk-taking at the state level," echoes Wisconsin's Lucey. "Ifs certainly a lot cheaper and probably more efficient than having the federal government imposing untried programs on 200 million people." 15

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