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Senator SWANSON. The division is not made between Senator Swanson and Mr. Shackleford ?
Mr. FINLEY. Oh, no.
Senator SWANSON. I mean in any law you suggest for Federal aid I understand your idea was that the money should be first paid for the roads of most general interest in the communities where about 75 per cent of the people pass over them?
Mr. SHACKLEFORD. As determined by the great public functionary whom I might hold up an appropriation from if he did not accept my recommendation. Mr. FINLEY. He would have to be careful.
The CHAIRMAN. In improving our present roads or aiding in the construction of new roads, which is the stronger feature? În other words, an improved transportation facility or an increased transportation facility? Which of the two appeals stronger to your mind?
Mr. FINLEY. I would have increased transportation facilities. The question of maintenance is very important. "I believe you could make a law covering maintenance as well as construction, and I think the Government could intelligently determine as between the two from time to time, but in my own opinion what we are suffering from now, on the whole, is the lack of good roads.
The CHAIRMAN. And it is additional transportation facilities we need?
Mr. FINLEY. Additional transportation facilities.
The CHAIRMAN. And additional incentive to the development of our Federal resources; that appeals to you fundamentally?
Mr. Finley. I think with the cooperation of the United States Government you will get the maintenance also.
Mr. MADDEN. Do you agree with Mr. Noble that the Federal Government ought to contribute 50 per cent of the cost?
Mr. FINLEY. I said, when Senator Swanson asked me a question along that line, that I thought it would be a great stimulus and that I had no other way of measuring it at the moment.
Mr. Madden. That is your opinion now?
Mr. FINLEY. I really have not thought it out, but I think that basis would be a great stimulus, and I think the Government could afford to proceed on that basis.
The CHAIRMAN. You really think we ought to go that far? Mr. FINLEY. Well, yes. I should say certainly, to start the proposition.
The CHAIRMAN. How far, in dollars, of annual aid do you think the Government should go ? How many millions ?
Mr. FINLEY. That I can not say definitely. As I said to Mr. Shackleford a few moments ago, I think the Government should proceed in a conservative way. I think it would be unfortunate for the Government to go headlong into the matter or in any way that would open the matter to abuse and condemnation of the system.
Mr. MADDEN. Have you any idea of how much money is expended on the construction of public highways annually?
Mr. FINLEY. I do not recall at the moment. I secured some figures for some addresses I have made, but I can not state them at this time.
Mr. Madden. Can you say approximately?
Mr. FINLEY. I looked up some figures with regard to our taxes and found that in our last fiscal year our taxes specifically paid for road improvements were a little over $300,000.
Mr. SHACKLEFORD. That is what I meant a little while ago when I suggested to the Senator the railroads are all contributing very largely:
Mr. FINLEY. Yes. That does not include the amount of general county taxes assigned to road improvements, but special road taxes.
Mr. SHACKLEFORD. While we are on that question, do you think of any items out of which we might raise a special road fund, as, for instance, an automobile tax!
Mr. FINLEY. Well, I have not thought about that. I know that State taxes on automobiles are pretty heavy now and I think they may increase from year to year. "Pardon me for making a voluntary statement. I heard Mr. Madden ask Mr. Noble a question and I would like to answer it for our railroad. Speaking for our railroad,
. I do not care where the good roads are built just so long as they are built to meet the real necessities of the situations. I mean by that I do not care whether under those circumstances they parallel our road from one end to the other. I do not regard them as factors in long-distance transportation and I welcome them in connection with the development of the areas surrounding our system.
Mr. MADDEN. If we assume that $150,000,000 are being expended annually now in the construction of roads, would it be fair to assume-of course, it would only be a guess—that that would be doubled if the Federal Government contributed half of the amount ?
Senator SWANSON. That amount is spent for maintenance and not for construction.
Mr. FINLEY. Of course I could not say as to the degree in which it might be further increased, but I think the stimulus would be very great and we would have much greater development than we have had in the past.
Mr. MADDEN. I am only asking that in order to get some idea of what the Government would have to contribute, whether $75,000,000 of $175,000,000 or $275,000,000.
Mr. FINLEY. I do not think I would go into such large figures as that to start with.
Mr. MADDEN. If they are spending $150,000,000 now, and we contribute 50 per cent of that amount, that would be $75,000,000.
Mr. FINLEY. I am not suggesting that the Government should share in all road construction.
Mr. SHACKLEFORD. Do you think it is fair to take the money that is raised on taxes from all of the people and put it on the roads for some of the people? Do you think the people who pay the taxes, or the people generally should participate in the benefits that follow?
Mr. FINLEY. We talk about the high cost of living-nothing would put farm products into consumption in a larger measure than good roads, and I believe it is in the interest of the people at large that this money should be expended.
The CHAIRMAN. Assuming that we can only assist and aid post roads, and that there are 1,100,000 miles of post roads now in existence we can not say that we will take out 100,000 of that 1,100,000 miles, to which we will render Federal aid. We have to render it
proportionately on some basis of distribution to the whole number of the States who are to participate.
Mr. FINLEY. In so far as any particular locality is concerned, it will have to be done under a plan of cooperation with the local people.
The CHAIRMAN. But, so far as the Federal Government is concerned, the appropriation would have to be general in its nature and apply to all and subject to designation made by the States in accordance with the conditions attached by the Federal Government.
Mr. FINLEY. That is right.
Senator SWANSON. It is estimated that about $150,000,000 is the amount expended each year in the United States in maintaining public roads. How much of that do you thing is wasted by being improperly expended?
Mr. FINLEY. I think a very large portion of it.
Mr. FINLEY. I have suggested publicly on various occasions that it would be to the interest of every county to have a highway engineer who would acquaint himself with the condition of the roads, the material available for roads, and who knew something about the building of roads.
Mr. SHACKLEFORD. Do you not think that many of the States will remedy the conditions this year?
Mr. FINLEY. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. How can the Federal Government rectify that? Could the Government not make the condition that each State should elect a highway engineer before any governmental aid is given to the State?
Mr. FINLEY. I could not say as to that specific feature. It should be provided that there shall be proper management and supervision. I think that is very important.
Mr. MADDEN. Let me ask you right there, where roads are built under the direction of a township as a unit, as they are in a number of States, and money is raised for the construction of the roads within the township, from taxation from the abutting property owners, what influence do you think an engineer would have in forcing the people to tax themselves within the township for the proper building and maintenance of a road?
Mr. FINLEY. You mean within the towns?
Mr. Madden. No; the township. For example, a township is 6 miles square and any money spent on the road or road construction is raised by the people within the township on the abutting property, If these people did not want to tax themselves no engineer could force them to.
Mr. FINLEY. No. My reference to the engineer was responsive to the question, as I understood it, whether I thought money was wasted. I said that as to the money available, there ought to be management in the expenditure of it.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not think the Federal Government can audit accounts or anything of that kind in the way of expenditures? You have to depend on the personnel of the State units and their integrity, do you not?
Mr. FINLEY. Well, I suppose largely, but my training is such that I should always want to audit accounts that reflected the expenditure of money that I was distributing.
Mr. SHACKLEFORD. The auditing of some accounts would not be of any benefit unless you audited them all.
Mr. FINLEY. Well, you could test them from time to time. The CHAIRMAN. You are now getting into enormous operations. Mr. FINLEY. I am speaking somewhat academically on this point. The solution of the matter will have to be worked out, but I have no doubt that when you get to the practical features the idea that some have of an enormous organziation will disappear.
The CHAIRMAN. You think it would !
Mr. FINLEY. Yes. We have some pretty big problems to handle, and there are some not advised about them who think that it takes an enormous force to handle them in all of their phases. I have heard people say, “How does one man do this or that? ” It is all a question of organization, and not a very large one, outside of those who are working out the details.
The CHAIRMAN. You are dealing with one person, however, and here there are 49—the 48 States and the Federal Government.
Mr. FINLEY. That is the difficulty, and I will say that the management of one particular railroad sinks into comparative insignificance compared with what you are considering here. While it is a large question for the Government, its interests and resources are greater than those of any one railway, and I can only say that I hope the Federal Government will find some way of cooperating reasonably in this matter.
Mr. MADDEN. Of course, it would be very much more effective for you to direct how the organization of your railroad could cooperate in all its various branches than it would be for anybody in the Federal Government to direct how it would cooperate in all its various branches with all the State connections, with all the politics that are mixed up in it?
Mr. FINLEY. Yes, sir. It is a much more difficult proposition, but I think the difficulty can be overcome. That is my general view.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you care to express an opinion how far you think the Federal Government should go in the way of an appropriation ?
Mr. FINLEY. As I said, I have no particular way of knowing it. I know of one suggestion involving an appropriation of $25,000,000. I have heard suggestions made of $50,000,000 and of greater amounts. I think that $25,000,000 is a reasonable amount to start with.
The CHAIRMAN. As a large taxpayer, you would not consider that too large an amount?
Mr. FINLEY. No; I do not think so. I think the importance of the matter overshadows such an amount of money. I think it is one of the most pressing economic problems we have before us.
Senator SWANSON. Have you ever made an estimate as to the cost per ton per mile over any roads along the line of the Southern Railway!
Mr. FINLEY. We have, but I do not recall it sufficiently clearly to be able to say specifically. Speaking generally, I only wish I could get the same rate per ton per mile for the railroad, or even half of it. Senator SWANSON. Have you the statistics on that?
Mr. FINLEY. I have only gotten them from the good roads department of the Government from time to time. We had a superintendent once who made the remark that if he could do a certain thing he would be ashamed to take the money from the public. If I could get the same rate per ton per mile on the railroad as it is costing on the highways I would be ashamed to take the money.
Senator GRONNA. I believe the average in the United States is 23 cents per ton per mile.
Mr. FINLEY. I think it is; and we do not average 1 cent per ton per mile.
Senator SWANSON. Do you see any chance of having road development, such as this country should have, if the taxes for this road construction and maintenance are to be paid entirely by the abutting landowners—entirely by the local people?
Mr. FINLEY. I do not think you will get any comprehensive development. I think it would be very slow,
indeed. Senator SWANSON. Does it prove to you, then, that where the Federal Government paid half of the construction and the taxpayers paid all to that extent that the city people would be as much interested as the country people?
Mr. FINLEY. I think so.
Senator SWANSON. And by having Federal aid to that extent the large cities are building up the rural districts?
Mr. FINLEY. I think so. The cities have a great deal. We must look after the country fellow at the present time. The city man is getting along all right.
Senator SWANSON. You never heard of any objection in those States where they have State aid for money paid out of the taxes by the city people for rural service! You never heard any objection
? from the city people ?
Mr. FINLEY. I have never heard any from the city people.
Senator Swanson. You live in Virginia where we appropriate for the convict road force $300,000 out of the State funds. You have heard no complaint from the cities about that?
Mr. FINLEY. No. I have been living in the country the last year. I know there are convicts at work in my immediate vicinity.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there any further information or suggestion that you can give us.
Mr. FINLEY. No. I think of nothing more.
At the conclusion of Mr. Finley's testimony he was requested by the committee to prepare and submit further suggestions as to a plan of cooperation by the Federal Government in road improvement within the States. In compliance with this request he submitted the following as the result of his more mature consideration:
It is generally agreed, I believe, that, with the exception of a few roads so situated with respect to military posts, national cemeteries, etc., that they properly come under the head of military roads, the only country highways in the construction and maintenance of which the Federal Government may constitutionally participate are post roads—those used for the carriage of the mails in star-route and rural-delivery service. It is reasonable, therefore, that in apportioning among the States any money that may be appropriated by Congress for the construction and maintenance of post roads, the mileage of such roads in each State shall be one of the factors to be considered in deciding upon a basis for apportionment.