NER Washington forum; Farris Bryant
It seemed to me that to take money from the people of Minnesota to give to the people of South Carolina of vice versa to achieve local purposes is a wrong thing to do to achieve national Peppa says is a good thing. It is the voice you just heard was that of the Honorable ferrous Bryant chairman of the President's Advisory Commission on intergovernmental relations. And our guest this week on the NE our Washington forum a weekly program probing the significant issues before us as a nation. Today a discussion on federal aid to the 50 states. This program was produced for the national educational radio network through the facilities of W am you FM American University Radio in Washington D.C.. I'm Bill Greenwood chairman ferrous Bryant is a man who wears many hats on behalf of the president of the United States. He is a former governor of the state of Florida and now serves as director of the cabinet level office of emergency
planning. He is also President Lyndon Johnson's chief players on man with the 50 state governors. Governor Bryant it sounds like you're a man pretty much on the go most of the time. Well to keep up with these several responsibilities that you had to stay on the move. You have just been named chairman of the President's Advisory Commission on intergovernmental relations just what is that Governor. Well the commission is is an is an institution established by the Congress in one thousand fifty nine. It's composed of three private citizens some senators some congressman three Cabinet officials four governors four mayors some legislative AWS and some elected county officials. It is a group which is designed to focus upon intergovernmental problems and to bring the experience and expertise of all these levels of government to bear upon the particular problems that they study.
And you hadn't served on this commission be force being selected as chairman had you got to know I had not. Do you feel then that perhaps there's some special reason why you were thrust into the the leader of this group. Well I think President Johnson has put a great emphasis upon federal state relationships. And while in a governmental The intergovernmental relations commission deals with many relationships other than federal state nevertheless that is the focus that has caught the president's attention for some time now. I have been doing this kind of work for him as a sort of a byproduct of my OEP relationship. And I think it was natural for him to turn in this instance to somebody who was already doing that kind of job. You mention your many jobs and the many hats you wear does it appear perhaps that you're spreading yourself thin with the government responsibilities you are now assuming. Oh I suppose you might think so. It does keep me going pretty good but
it's been my experience that the more you have to do the more you do you know that's the converse of Parkinson's Law in a MUP length of time taken to do a job is the amount of time available for it. And conversely you do what you have to do in the time you do have available with the many responsibilities you do have. I would imagine you're forced to keep in pretty close contact with the president. Reasonably so yes I try to make the demands on his time as limited as possible try to confer with him by memorandum and telephone as much as I can. What aspects of the jobs you hold in the field of intergovernmental relations do you see to be of most concern to President Johnson. I think he's most concerned that as a federal government go it grows in a peculiarly American way so that the strength and vitality of state and local governments is not sapped but is in fact increased. The American
genius has conceived of the grant in a way as to. With which to work the federal state relationship. And what the president is anxious to do is to make that grant in aid to the most effective one for the service of the people that it can be. So this is what he wants me to concentrate upon. And it's what I've been doing. There's been a lot of people recently saying that the United States itself is using this grant in aid to excess that there are just too many projects being formed in this period of time and that some of them may not be actual necessities. What do you feel generally about this. Oh I think it's undoubtedly true. I think some of them are are not necessities because you have your range of values. I think it's important to note that the amount of money collected and spent by the federal government except for the Vietnam
expended tours is no larger proportion of the gross national product than it has been for many years. Two hundred bad 18 percent. So that even with the grants in aid and even with the proliferation of federal programs you don't have an unusual impact upon the national economy. However I'm sure that many a congressman introduces legislation which many other congressmen and people I think call for grants that they would not desire to be done. Governor a lot of people believe that I want your jobs is to slip away the federal red tape involved in some of these grants to the state and local governments. How are you doing this if in fact you are. Well yes to some degree we are. The president is doing it in several ways first of all he has beginning last year begun issuing a number of orders to his administrative people to consolidate federal operations so that when
states and localities deal with the federal government they can focus in on one authority. He's also been trying to see that authority from the federal level is given to the regional federal people so that again state people instead of having to come to Washington can go to a region and get an answer and then casing the Bureau of Public roads for instance. He's trying to get that authority back to the this district engineer in the state so that decisions can be made there. Then the Partnership for Public Health. Legislation passed last year provided for the consolidation of a number of federal grants so that a state can develop a comprehensive federal health program and get grants for comprehensive program rather than for a number of small fragmented problems. There are lots of ways therefore that the president has by administrative decree brought about a
reduction of the red tape involved. Do you foresee any future a reduction in this by the president. No question about it he directed in his the quality of government message a few days ago in the middle of March he directed the Bureau of the budget to develop legislation within 30 days which would which would be designed to give the administration the authority to consolidate grants in AIDS even when they have not been consolidated by the Congress. So that simplification of procedures and planning can be achieved. What exactly are you doing Governor Bryant to cut away this red tape for the president. I'm trying to do a two things really one is to establish lines of communication that ought to exist. We're taking the federal people at the policymaking level out into the field and confronting them with their state counterparts something rather. Perhaps
not surprising but remarkable nevertheless does happen when this occurs they find out the federal people find out the state people are pretty competent and state people find out that the federal people wear horns and they have telephone numbers and you can call them a weekend and you can get responses if you just understand the procedures there and go down the road that have been prescribed procedure a little better. That's one thing a communication that's so important. The second thing is that most states and the federal people state people and federal people are learning that they have to adjust their procedures to conform to the other. We find out at the federal level that Alaska and Florida are not like that. Just give you I think what is a really very interesting example in one particular agency is operating under a congressional statute that says you should have one
office for every so many thousand people in a state. Well that's fine for Alaska along the seacoast. But then for all the rest of Alaska half as big as the United States only one office of this particular agency. Well it just means that most of the people of that total area simply don't have recourse to that federal facility at all. Obviously therefore the law ought to be readjusted to fit that particular situation. So the federal people are finding that states are different. The state people are finding that the federal programs can be worked with much more effectively if they have simply be informed if they would take the trouble to add to what the programs what the procedures are and lots of the red tape just disappear and this group of experts in the field of the federal government which are visiting States has been known by the news media recently as
the so-called presidential task force. Is there any relation between this group and the Advisory Commission on intergovernmental relations. You know except that we do take advantage of the staff of the Advisory Commission in a governmental relations to help us. Faces state problems and develop federal responses. But there is no formal or official relationship. You're I suppose the general of this task force and Federal soldiers could you tell us exactly how it's composed going. Yes after the governor has invited us to a state we send one of our men from the office here in Washington to visit with the governor and his top people and to define the problems in federal state relations that are concerning the governor. And then the one that has been done. He brings back his report and we contact the cabinet offices in the bureaus to have them assigned a man to that
task force for that trip. That will enable us to provide answers to that governor to the problems that he's defined. And so we may have 12 members the task force on this trip and 30 members on the next trip. Dyster pends upon what the needs of the particular state and the desires of the particular going on. What has been the reaction from the leaders of the states you visited so far to this group going. Well they've been about over 20 of them and so I can say that their reaction has been varied but usually you find it not so much now but when we started calling Janet Dee of course hospitality but skepticism. They didn't really believe that we were going to do anything about this federal state relation. They didn't really think that when we left their capitol and came back to Washington they'd hear anymore about it.
But as we come back on the airplane every man on the trip prepares a report which goes to our follow up people and it sets out what the problems were and what they suggested to the state people and what the proposed solutions are who needs to do what next. And then our people in the office see to it that the things that were promised to be done are done that the solutions are sought are found the lines of communications which have been established are used. Governor have you been refused an invitation from any of the states which you would like to visit. Oh I don't think you can put it that way I'm quite sure that there be some of the states it will feel the need for this service governor as well have other interests able think their relationships are adequate as it is. I don't say this is being refused an invitation. We probably will not be invited to all the states. Has there been any real hostility on the part of leaders from states you have visited thus
far. No none absolutely none. Skepticism is the worst thing we've encountered hostility noted on some reporters particularly as well as some opposition governors have said in the past few weeks that this task force is really just an image building device for President Johnson in advance of the next elections would you. Well I don't I don't really believe any opposition leaders have said that I think maybe some reporters have said that but I don't remember reading of any opposition leaders saying that it's not a question of image building. It's not a political event you know we visit Republican state and democratic state indiscriminately is fight that's contained it is an exercise in the improvement of federal state relations of course to the extent that the president does a good job it does improve his image and to the extent that he does a poor job it hurts it. So I suppose you can't separate that is not its purpose.
Do you know of any previous presidents who have used a similar type method of improving the links of communication. I think it's really interesting that this president who has spent his entire life in the federal government has shown more concern for state government than any other president that I know of in history. No I do not know of any president that has done is one of the specific areas of exploration which you have pursued during your meetings with the various state leaders. Well they vary but in the areas of health education and welfare they're concerned frequently that the finance the funding time schedule is not an effective one. For instance let's say that for this year nineteen sixty eight for which repairing beginning July the first Congress probably won't pass its appropriation bill for before September and it will provide in the area for federal funds for state
programs for the year beginning in July three months before the bill passed. Well after the Congress has prepared pass a bill then the agencies have to get the information and make recommendations to the states which will probably let's say come in October-November within a state will have probably have its legislative session in April up in January or February. Or later. So they are up past airport operations perhaps as early as April and then in May the state people will get the money required to match the federal funds for the year that ends the very next month with the severe real problem it's caused by not by anybody's fault it's just the funding process is out of it's out of it's not consistent with that realities. Congress has got to a recognition that they must
appropriate for more than one year's time or else that neither the federal nor the state governments can plan for the wise use of the money that Congress appropriates. It's their stamp they must be more lead time in these operations. Another thing that states have had difficulty weird is dealing with a number of agencies that have fund all programs in the same area. You might find in vocational education you might find the Department of Agriculture of the bombing of late the bombing of communists. You might find Department of Health Education and Welfare of course. And so as a governor approaches a particular problem he might be faced with a whole range of possibilities and have to do a shopping job to determine which best fits his need. This is not a good deal. And the president is trying to consolidate the federal activities and coordinate them so that a governor will be faced with a range of options Jass.
But not with competing in overlapping situations which seem to be the most common problems to the different states can we put them in a one to three order Governor. You say health education and welfare What is the most crucial problem facing the state governments at this point to you're in a relationship with the federal government yes and ignorant simply a lack of knowledge of the federal programs purely and simply. And that comes from a lack of communications lack of staffing at the state level. This is a big problem. But to go to substantive problems I would say that consolidation of grants is their biggest decide it's a problem that they want. It's a solution that they want the proliferation of grants which are categorical in nature narrow in definition which don't
give the governor much range of discretion as to which problems in his state he wants to attack. That's the number one problem. Governor Bryant the Advisory Commission recently made public its eight then you will report to the president and it said the biggest problem was the management dilemma. Is this what you're talking about now. That's a two word definition of all I've been saying. It also suggests that federal guidelines may be too harsh in the relations between state and federal grants. Would you elaborate on that. I it's frequently true I think that when Congress passes a law it may include Gadd line and in the legislation or it may set out purposes which federal people then translate into guidelines designed to achieve that purpose they may have to do that they
may not be able to qualify with the General Accounting Office other budget bureau for the fines unless a lay down guidelines that will permit them to come to qualify. But frequent Also there is a federal tendency as there is a state tendency towards local governments to try to prescribe them. We're too great to take on what the states must do to satisfy the requirements. One of the one of the major objectives is to center procedures which will which will give credibility to state efforts and allow initiative in resourcefulness at the state level to achieve national go but not to have to achieve those goals. According to a strict strict outline of procedure or strict set of criteria which we might call guidelines in the advisory Commissions report it also mention federal tax immunity abuses by local
governments. What exactly are some of these abuses going well I think what it's talking about there are two in Nature recently Ohio proposed a hundred million dollar bond issue. It was going to issue this money and B it would have tax tax exempt bond interest and therefore the bonds would bear a higher rate of interest on the market that haven't taken this money tax free instead of while we're invested in federal government. Issues and a higher rate of return and the arbitrary age or the profit would go into the coffers of the state of Ohio. Well this was the one of the things that the advisory commission was talking about. I think that's not a good practice and I had my governor old in state of Ohio for withdrawing that proposition. Another thing that they're talking about and there's still considerable doubt as to how it ought to be approached is the use of tax exempt
bonds to finance industrial development or industrial plants in a state where you have a plant come in and say if you'll build us a building with tax free bond We're located in your area where this has good and bad aspects. It's one of the things I'm sure the Advisory Commission was speaking about. They also talk in their report of state financial aid to urban areas. Could you elaborate on that a little. Well yes this is something to see clearly ought to be done in state of New York France and I was rather amazed to hear Governor Rockefeller in responding to some television inquiries point out that the state of New York granted to the city of New York some two million three hundred million dollars per annum a fantastic some money. I think that the federal government only contributes to New York some 800 million dollars so the state of New York gives more than three times as much aid are caught in those figures to the city of New
York as does the federal government state metropolitan aid ought to be increased and there again the states have the same problem the federal government has. They ought to give the local government more discretion more authority and less strict guidelines more flexible criteria all the things that the federal government does wrong to the state governments state governments to run to city government and they too are in the process of trying to improve that relationship. Governor this state financial aid of course would have to come from the State Treasury and and of course to do this the states who are already crying poor would apparently have to find additional sources of money. Where could this money come from. Whether lots of places it could come from if you look in the advisory commission report you'll find that only about 33 of the states for instance have an income tax. About 40 of the states I don't know we just exact number without looking real quickly
have sales tax. There are various business taxes that might be imposed. I'm not recommending that these things be done and these are sources of income to which many of the states could turn. They have many problems. One of the great problems is really for the had been tax burden at the local level. Another problem is the relief of the personal property tax burden and the intangible tax burden. These don't raise much in much money for the states offer the local government that is the intangibles tax and personal property don't but they do cause real problems for the communities. However until they have some alternative source of revenue they have a hard time giving them up. One major source now for many programs of course is the federal grants which we've been talking about for some time do you feel that the states are abdicating their role and theirs that perhaps they are trying to shift the responsibility to the federal level.
Well I'm I don't really think of it in those terms. Both the state government and the federal government are just instruments of the people. They don't have any excuse for being except to serve the common welfare the common defense. And I think as long as any program is national in the application of it. If it's more convenient to do it through the federal government revenue resources than Lee has to do it with the state gov revenues resources I don't see why o not be done. The grant in aid is the American response to that problem. And if we can keep the grant any broaden it for administrative purposes give more discretion and authority to local government will strengthen local government will strengthen the people down to the level where the government programs work. We do that using the revenue resources of the federal government and the manpower
and initiative of the local government. Governor Bryant we hear a lot about possible tax sharing in the states and localities picking up some of the excess money from the federal government. Some bills have been introduced in the Congress which would accomplish this. What do you feel about this possibility. Well of course attack Shain proposal has many attractive features I think we ought remember that it was first proposed by Mr. Heller. As a means of disposing of projected surpluses in the federal government separate is which would have existed but for the Vietnam War. I don't think the proposal is Jemaine in today's circumstance. I don't generally like to see one area of government given money for which it is not in some way responsible unless there is a purpose and not a guideline
not a strict procedure but a practice. The federal government does express the national purposes and there's no reason why money should not be given back to state and local governments to achieve those national purposes. I would hate to see the time come when the federal government began giving money back just for local purposes. But do you feel the states and local governments possess the financial strength now you point out that some have not yet adopted an income tax but many others have. Many others say there are no tax sources at this point. What do you feel will be the ultimate solution for those states. For example New York State. Well New York State. Yeah it's funny you would pick that when it's infant best financial condition of any state in the nation. Governor Rockefeller is wondering how he can get authority to prefer Nantz some federal
projects at the federal government didn't have money enough to finance. What about New York City Governor. Well that's that's a different situation of course. The problem of the cities is being approached is being approached by the housing unit by the Cannon Office of Housing and Urban Development. I don't know what the answer is going to be. It's going to take more than money to solve it. It's a complex of economic problems jurisdictional problems because the central cities are surrounded by. The metropolitan area is that prevented from expanding logically often tapping resources that ought to be able to tap. It's a complex of social problems and I don't really know an easy answer. Certainly not just money to the Metropolitan problem. But you're saying then is the problem does exist and further studies will be needed and
- NER Washington forum
- Farris Bryant
- Producing Organization
- WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Hon. Farris Bryant, chairman, President's Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.
- Series Description
- Discussion series featuring a prominent figure affecting federal government policy.
- Public Affairs
- Media type
Host: Greenwood, Bill
Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Speaker: Bryant, Farris, 1914-2002
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-24-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “NER Washington forum; Farris Bryant,” 1967-05-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 6, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r20rwg09.
- MLA: “NER Washington forum; Farris Bryant.” 1967-05-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 6, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r20rwg09>.
- APA: NER Washington forum; Farris Bryant. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-r20rwg09