CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE
JUNE 15, 1962
ADVISORY COMMISSION ON INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS: A REPORT ON ITS FIRST 2 YEARS
Mr. MUSKIE. Mr. President, Members of the Senate will recall that in 1959 the Congress enacted Public Law 86-380 which established an Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.
The Commission, as constituted by Congress, has seven basic purposes:
First. To bring together representatives of the Federal, State, and local governments for the consideration of common problems.
Second. To provide a forum for discussing the administration and coordination of Federal grant and other programs requiring intergovernmental cooperation.
Third. To give critical attention to the conditions and controls involved in the administration of Federal grant programs.
Fourth. To make available technical assistance to the executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government in the review of proposed legislation to determine its overall effect on the Federal system.
Fifth. To encourage discussion and study at an early stage of emerging public problems that are likely to require intergovernmental cooperation.
Sixth. To recommend, within the framework of the Constitution, the most desirable allocation of governmental functions, responsibilities, and revenues among the several levels of government.
Seventh. To recommend methods of coordinating and simplifying tax laws and administrative practices to achieve a more orderly and less competitive fiscal relationship between the levels of government and to reduce the burden of compliance for taxpayers.
In carrying out its responsibilities the Commission has been composed of representatives from each level of government and from the legislative and executive branches thereof.
I was honored to be one of the principal sponsors of the legislation establishing the Commission, and it has been my pleasure to serve as a member of the Commission since its establishment. My colleagues, the senior Senator from North Carolina [Mr. ERVIN] and the senior Senator from South Dakota [Mr. MUNDT], have also served on the Commission since its inception. On the House side, Mr. FOUNTAIN, of North Carolina, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations and the original sponsor of the bill creating the Commission, has served continuously as has his colleague on the subcommittee, the gentlewoman from New Jersey [Mrs. DWYER]. Mr. KEOGH, of New York, is the other House Member of the Commission.
Two years have now elapsed since the Commission began its work. I think it appropriate to report to the Senate on how the Commission has been progressing, and the extent to which it has been measuring up to the responsibilities placed upon it by the statute. I will give today an overall report on the Commission's work; subsequent reports on particular subjects will be placed in the RECORD by my colleagues from the Congress or myself, depending upon the subject matter involved and our respective interests in it.
At the outset, I should like to pay tribute to the very able Chairman under which the Commission has proceeded, Mr. Frank Bane, of Virginia, a man known to many of you for his lifetime of work and leadership in Federal, State, and local governments. He was appointed as the first Chairman of the Commission by President Eisenhower and this year was reappointed for a second term as Chairman by President Kennedy.
The Commission, in addition to the six Members from the Congress, has three members from the executive branch the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor, and Health, Education, and Welfare. Its other membership includes four Governors, three mayors, three State legislative leaders, and three elected county officials. Finally, in addition to the Chairman, the general public is represented on the Commission by two other members.
It has been a privilege and pleasure to me to work with the distinguished people who have served on the Commission and to discuss and debate major questions of Federal-State-local relations with them.
The first meeting of the Commission was held on December 14, 1959. The second meeting on February 10, 1960, saw the appointment by the Commission of an Executive Director. The Executive Director reported for duty on April 1, 1960. We have been very fortunate in the able and dedicated work of Mr. William G. Colman, Executive Director, and his staff in carrying out our assignments.
The third meeting of the Commission was held on May 25,1960, and concerned itself with considering and finally approving an initial work program. At that time we concluded that the major concerns of the Commission fell into three general areas-taxation and finance; metropolitan areas; and the general structure of State and local governments, their relationships with one another and with the National Government.
At its meeting on January 18 and 19, 1961, the Commission began its consideration of substantive issues of intergovernmental relations, and adopted three Commission reports. Subsequent meetings of the Commission held in April, June, and September, 1961, were concerned with consideration and action on seven additional reports. These reports are as follows:
First. Coordination of Federal and State Inheritance, Estate, and Gift Taxes;
Second. Modification of Federal Grants-in-Aid for Public Health Services;
Third. Investment of Idle Cash Balances by State and Local Governments;
Fourth. Intergovernmental Responsibilities for Mass Transportation Facilities and Services in Metropolitan Areas;
Fifth. Governmental Structure, Organization, and Planning in Metropolitan Areas;
Sixth. State and Local Taxation of Privately Owned Property Located on Federal Areas;
Seventh. Intergovernmental Cooperation in Tax Administration: Some Principles and Possibilities;
Eighth. Periodic Congressional Reassessment of Federal Grants-in-Aid to State and Local Governments;
Ninth. Local Nonproperty Taxes and the Coordinating Role of the State;
Tenth. State Constitutional and Statutory Restrictions on Local Government Debt.
On the whole, the Commission's report has met with favorable response from Federal, State, and local, legislative and administrative officials and from the professional, business, and academic communities. Three of the reports have already had to be reprinted to meet the demand.
I am sure Senators will be interested in what is taking place as a result of the Commission's reports. The Commission decided very early in its life that its claim to permanence could not be justified on the mere issuance of reports; rather it had to devote considerable attention to following through in behalf of its recommendations in terms of legislative or administrative action. Allow me to summarize briefly what is happening with regard to its recommendations for legislative action at the Federal and State levels.
Of 11 recommendations for congressional action, 4 coincided with provisions incorporated into the Housing Act of 1961. These are expanded financial support to metropolitan planning agencies, Federal technical assistance to State and local urban planning, congressional consent in advance to interstate compacts for metropolitan area planning, and Federal financial assistance for mass transportation.
The remaining items for congressional action are: First, review of Federal grant-in-aid applications by metropolitan planning agencies; second, continued financial support to such planning agencies; third, revision of the Federal estate tax credit for taxes paid to States; fourth, authorizing transfers of funds among public health categorical grants; fifth, provision of a standard allocation formula for such grants; sixth, provisions for retrocession of exclusive Federal jurisdiction over various Government lands and properties; seventh, authorizing the Internal Revenue Service to perform services for State tax agencies on a reimbursement basis; and, eighth, providing uniform congressional policy and procedure under which all new grants-in-aid would be reexamined periodically.
Bills to carry out the various recommendations have been introduced and referred to the appropriate committees. Considerable support has been developed for the estate tax credit and public health bills and we hope for favorable action in the present session.
Of the 22 recommendations for State legislative action, 7 have been developed into draft bills, all of which were approved by the Council of State Governments for inclusion in the council's 1962 legislative program. These bills cover the following subjects: First, authorization for local governments to invest Idle cash balances; second, authorization for interlocal contracting for joint performance of urban services; third, authorization for creation of metropolitan service corporations for mass transportation and for other functions; fourth, authorization for voluntary transfer of functions between cities and counties; fifth, establishment of a State unit for continuing attention and assistance to metropolitan areas; and, sixth, authorization for State and local governments to secure and preserve open land.
Resolutions endorsing all or most of these bills have been passed by the American Municipal Association and the National Association of County Officials. Additionally, the Governors' conference endorsed the principle involved in the draft bill on the investment of idle cash balances.
The Commission has also made several recommendations for broadening the scope of administrative cooperation at Federal and State levels, and consultations are proceeding between the Commission staff and Federal and State officials with regard to these matters.
In summary, I am happy to report that in its first 2 years the Commission has demonstrated its ability to do three things: First, focus its attention on selected issues, avoiding thereby the dissipation of its limited resources into broad or fruitless endeavors; second, to face up to and take definite positions on intergovernmental issues of considerable controversy and to enunciate such positions clearly and forcefully through the medium of printed Commission reports; and, third, to secure interest in and support of its recommendations from important organizations, such as the Governors' conference; American Municipal Association; Association of State Budget Officers; National Association of County Officials; National Association of State Auditors, Treasurers and Comptrollers; National Association of Tax Administrators; and the National Tax Association.
Although dealing with a variety of controversial issues, the Commission has managed to avoid either internal or external repercussions and recriminations. Especially the members of the Commission have avoided splintering into a group of blocs in considering the issues with which it has been confronted. No organized pattern of majority and minority voting associated with the levels of government has emerged.
Although intergovernmental problems are not separable into isolated compartments, the Commission so far has concerned itself somewhat more with State-local relations than with Federal-State relations. This takes account of the fact that several major problems of Federal-State relations are being handled elsewhere-namely, civil rights, by a separate commission; Federal oversight of interstate compact operations by the Federal courts; Federal aid to education and State taxation of income derived from interstate commerce, both under exhaustive consideration by the Congress.
The major theme of the Commission's recommendations so far has been directed toward improving the effectiveness of State and local governments on the assumption that these local units of government must adequately discharge their responsibility if unnecessary future centralization is to be avoided.
I think Senators will agree that the foregoing constitutes a commendable record for the initial work of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. I predict that its effectiveness will continue to grow.
President Kennedy expressed recently his strong interest and support for the work of the Commission. I ask unanimous consent that the letter from the President be printed in the RECORD at this point.
There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
THE WHITE HOUSE,
February 26, 1962.
Hon. FRANK BANE,
Chairman, Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: On the occasion of the reconstitution of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, I wish to express my appreciation to those members who have served so well during the first 2-year term of the Commission's existence. I should like also to convey to those members, both old and new, who will carry forward the Commission's work my deep personal interest in the problems which will have the attention and collective experience and judgment of the Commission membership.
The relationships existing among the various levels of Government in this country are more complex and more important than at any other time in our Nation's history. It is obvious that the Federal, State, and local governments will be able to discharge their responsibilities more effectively if there is fuller understanding of the proper roles that each can and should perform.
Problems resulting from the rapid growth of our metropolitan areas -- including both the central city and the surrounding suburban area -- require special attention. Studies already undertaken by the Commission on the subject contain valuable proposals identifying the proper responsibilities of each level of government and recommending the most effective use of the combined resources of our cities, States, and National Government. You have properly called attention to the fact that State and local leadership, as well as national leadership, is essential to meet the needs of our growing urban population.
The rising cost of Government at all levels, coupled with the growing interdependence of national life, has called new attention to the strains placed on traditional governmental taxing practices. We must improve Federal, State, and local coordination of tax and fiscal practices and policies to achieve equitable taxation, increase administrative efficiency, and make it possible for our taxpayers to pay their taxes with a minimum of confusion and administrative burden. Equitable and reasonable intergovernmental tax policies will facilitate the free flow of trade among our States and will contribute to our economic growth.
I am confident the Commission will address itself to these and other important problems of intergovernmental relationships. You have my sincere wishes that your efforts will help strengthen and improve our system of cooperative federalism.
JOHN F. KENNEDY.