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TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 1930
UNITED STATES SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Washington, D. C.
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 2 o'clock p. m., in the committee room, Capitol, Senator Arthur Capper, chairman, presiding.
Present: Senators Capper, Jones, Copeland and Robsion. The committee had under consideration S. 4180, which is here printed in full, as follows:
[S. 4180, Seventy-first Congress, second session]
A BILL To amend the act entitled "An act to provide for the establishment of a municipal center in the District of Columbia," approved February 28, 1929
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act to provide for the establishment of a municipal center in the District of Columbia, approved February 28, 1929, is hereby amended by adding at the end of such act a new section, as follows:
"SEC. 3. There is hereby authorized to be appropriated out of the general funds of the Treasury the sum of $15,000,000 for the purchase of land and the construction of buildings in the municipal center, said sum to be advanced from to time time on requisitions of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia as appropriations are made by Congress for such purposes, and said sum shall be reimbursed to the Treasury by the said Commissioners out of the revenues of the District of Columbia in installments of $1,000,000 per year, with interest at the rate of 31⁄2 per centum per annum on annual balances, the first installment to be paid on June 30, 1932."
Senator JONES. Mr. Chairman, I can not stay longer than two or three minutes, and I would like to make a brief statement about one or two of the bills that are coming up.
The CHAIRMAN. The first bill has to do with the municipal center. That is Senate bill 3615.
Senator JONES. That is the $15,000,000 bill?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Senator JONES. I wanted to make a brief statement about that. I do not believe that we ought to act on that measure at this time. I do not know what the feeling of the people of the District may be with reference to the imposition of an additional $15,000,000 burden. The CHAIRMAN. Let me say that after introducing the bill, I immediately asked the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, the Federation of Citizens' Associations, represented by Doctor Havenner, its president; the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Trade and, I think, every representative citizens' association to come
here for the purpose of getting just what you suggest-the view of the taxpayers and the citizens of the District of Columbia on this proposal.
Senator JONES. I am glad of that, but I wanted to express briefly my personal feeling, because I must go.
Senator COPELAND. Senator, are you familar with the way in which this matter came up?
Senator JONES. No.
The CHAIRMAN. I think this information should be in the record, and it will take but a minute. Let me call your attention to the statement made by Senator Bingham at the meeting of the Appropriation Committee on the District bill. The suggestion comes from Senator Bingham, chairman, as you know, of the subcommittee on the District bill, and he made this statement to our committee:
In connection with the acquisition of this property for a municipal center, I do not understand why the District taxpayers should have to buy this year $3,000,000 worth of real estate to be used for a magnificent municipal center that is going to last for a hundred years; why the taxpayer of the current day should be asked to go without things which he thinks he needs, like additional school-teachers for his children, and additional schoolhouses and assembly rooms and gymnasiums and books in his library and improvement to the roads which he is going to use and get the benefit from, and should be asked to carry in two years a burden of $6,000,000 for the purchase of land that is going to be used by his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
This bill calls for about $45,000,000, more or less, of which the Government bears about $9,000,000; but it is fair to say that this $3,000,000 will practically all come out of the pockets of the taxpayers of the coming 12 months. Any other city in the United States that contemplated building a municipal center at a cost of many millions of dollars would issue bonds for it, which would be amortized over a period of years.
I must say it does not seem to me at all fair that the taxpayers should be required to pay in this period of eight or nine years, the total cost of a municipal center project which will net at least $16,000,000, of which they are asked to pay $3,000,000 this year, $3,000,000 last year, probably another $3,000,000 next year, and so on-that they shall be asked to pay out of their pockets in the way of current expense for a monumental project of that kind that is going to last for at least a hundred years. I think that expense ought to be spread as any other city would spread it, by bonds, or by borrowing from the Federal Government at the same rate of interest that the Federal Government has to pay for the money, payable over a period of years.
The inclusion of this $3,000,000 is the one thing, in my mind, that causes the difficulty all the way down the line-the paring of salaries of $100 on this man, and $200 on that man, and $150 on that clerk, and not permitting the classification act to go into effect. We are told that it is very dangerous to increase the pay of the fireman and police because that is going to cost the District several hundred thousand dollars a year.
We are told that we can not have money enough for the improvement of the schools that are needed, and we have to follow a cheeseparing policy all down the line; yet we go into the pockets of the taxpayers for $3,000,000 for a project that is going to last a hundred years, at least.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, in line with the fact suggested there by Senator Bingham, and with this request of Senator Bingham's committee, I introduced the bill that is now before us.
Senator JONES. Mr. Chairman, I am not finding any fault with you for introducing these bills at all, nor am I criticizing you in any way; The CHAIRMAN. I did not take it that way at all. I merely wanted you to have the background of the proposal here.
Senator JONES. Well, I have seen some reference to it in the papers, and I am not going to discuss the terms of the District of Columbia
appropriation bill. That is a problem that we will have to meet and work out as between the House and the Senate. But I can not agree with several suggestions made by Senator Bingham. However, I have not the time to go into those matters now.
I do not believe that the District of Columbia ought to be burdened with this $15,000,000 indebtedness at this time. I personally believe very much in paying as we go. While this would be a monumental enterprise, there will probably be in the years to come other monumental enterprises for which the people of that period will have to care. I do not believe in saddling this indebtedness on the people of the District of Columbia at this time, nor the interest that it is proposed to have them pay.
I assume from this statement here that it is contemplated that something like this bill might be put on the appropriation bill. I am decidedly opposed to that. This proposition can be considered, of course, on its merits by the House and Senate, and if the House and Senate before this session closes should provide for it; then, of course, we will have to take care of it, probably in the deficiency bill.
Senator COPELAND. Senator, you must recall the House has already put $3,000,000 on this bill and we are committed to this project. But when we came to consider the District of Columbia appropriation bill, we found that to pay the $3,000,000 which the House provided would make it necessary to starve the schools, to cut down building which has to be done, and cut down other things, unless the tax rate is to be inordinately increased.
Senator JONES. There might be difference of opinion about increasing the tax rate. I do not think 2 per cent would hurt the people of the District of Columbia. So far as that is concerned, I know many places where the tax rate is much higher than it is here. But I have sought to relieve the people of the District of the tax burden as much as possible. As I say, we will have to take care of this $3,000,000 as well as we can. I am not in favor of starving schools or other necessary improvements, and if it is necessary to cut out the $3,000,000 to do that, I will be glad to do it. But, as I say, that is a consideration that we will have to meet on the District of Columbia appropriation bill. But I do not want to see saddled onto that bill a $15,000,000 proposition unless it has had careful consideration by both the House and the Senate.
Briefly, that is all I have to say now, because I have to go. There is one other matter listed, as I understand, to come up. The CHAIRMAN. Just a moment. We want to see that our program has full consideration so that we will know what we are doing. Senator JONES. That is all right.
This is a delicate matter in a way, but I understand it is proposed to increase the salaries of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia to $10,000.
I do not think that ought to be done when the old commissioners have just gone out of office. They have served under the salary that we have provided by law, and I think at any rate we might leave the increase of the salaries of the present commissioners, who probably deserve more, until a little later.
Then there was one other proposition in connection with a bridge on Michigan Avenue.