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Of course, you will want to make proper financial provision for continuing the State Council of Defense, which will be helpful in all communities in the problems attending demobilization, and also for the Federal-State-Municipal Employment System, which is now exceptionally well organized in our State and already a potent factor in the solution of all employment problems.
STEPS REQUIRING STATE INITIATIVE.
In addition to these steps of co-operation, I believe the problems following demobilization sufficiently important to warrant New Jersey taking the initiative as well.
Public works in both State and municipality which have been held up more or less by embargoes during the war should now be pushed with all intelligent vigor as one solution of the problem. Never was there less excuse for narrow, demagogic objections to the spending of public moneys wisely on needed public improvements. Under any circumstances I question the wisdom of political parties challenging each other or bidding for popular support on the alleged accomplishment of spending less money. New Jersey should spend more than it does on its roads, its institutions, educational and charitable, and improvements in the interest of happy, contented citizenship. Inability to expend public moneys prudently and intelligently is a political liability quite as intolerable as extravagance and waste; in fact, it amounts to the same thing, for public wealth uninvested, like the horse in the stable and idle machinery, represents loss. But, now, facing as we are the necessity of meeting exigencies and emergencies incident to post-war adjustment, the false economy of refusing to progress because progressing costs money is revealed in all its folly and littleness.
PUSH ROAD BUILDING AS ONE SOLUTION.
At this time our greatest public work in New Jersey is the State Highway System, and I believe this project should be pushed so vigorously that it will provide employment for thousands of men returning from military service, if not actually in road building itself, then in the various industries from whence the supplies and equipment for road construction come.
I am aware of the fact that the platforms adopted by both political parties last fall promised a suspension of highway taxation until such time as hostilities ceased and normal prices returned. The first of these contingencies is disposed of; hostilities have ceased. The second is as emphatically satisfied when it is taken into consideration that the only tax levy which this session of the Legislature could possibly suspend would be that of 1919-20, or fees collectable in December next, and I believe it will be conceded that prices of materials and labor will be as nearly normal at that time as we can ever hope to have them. Nothing would be gained by paralyzing highway building in 1920 or later. In fact, actual harm would be done taxpayers of the State, for important roads which must be maintained would be going to rack and ruin in the meantime, occasioning a larger expenditure when the work is taken up ultimately. The sum of about six million dollars has been collected in the past two years under our scheme of raising three million dollars per year for a period of five years for our highway system. Under the first three million dollars contracts have been let for work on ten of the routes outlined, and I am advised by the Highway Department that during the coming year it will be possible to proceed with and complete all of these outstanding contracts, which were temporarily suspended under Federal orders. Again, the department has before it a program covering the work intended for 1919, to be paid for from the second tax levy of three million dollars, and purposes to have plans prepared so that contracts may be let for the work under this program as soon as the construction season opens. Manifestly, this much of the road program, already in process, will afford a large and expanding field for labor, and I feel that nothing should be done which would in any way curtail the activities of the Highway Department subsequently. Let us encourage, too, treatment of dirt roads and other purely county or township highways by some common, State-supervised formula, so that these roads will not be things apart, but important links in the State chain of highways. The legislative committee will have important recommendations on this subject, and I bespeak your earnest consideration of the concrete form in which the matter will be presented.
HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT SOLIDLY FOUNDED AND PREPARED.
May I at this point digress for a moment to call your attention officially to facts touching upon the thorough organization and actual constructive accomplishments of the Highway Department as constituted in New Jersey. This is important, in my judgment, because it is your plain duty to stimulate and encourage in every way the Highway Department, in the big and important task ahead, if it is soundly organized and prepared for the job. What are the facts? The Highway Department, notwithstanding obstacles due to the war which I have recited elsewhere, is to-day a going concern with outstanding contracts amounting to $2,500,000.00; and it will be ready in the spring to let additional contracts to the amount of $3,000,000.00. Considering the State Highway tax levy of $3,000,000.00, the Motor Vehicle Fund apportioned among counties for road purposes, of $2,000,000.00, the State Aid Appropriations to counties of $500,000.00, the Township Aid Fund of $105,000.00, and the amounts spent by the various counties in conjunction with the State Motor Vehicle Fund and State Aid Fund over which the Highway Department exercises supervision by approval of plans and specifications and inspectionconsidering these latter amounts of $3,750,000.00, it will be seen that the annual business of or funds administered by our Highway Department aggregates the grand total of $9,355,000.00. Contrast this with the further fact that the total annual cost of operating the Highway Department, including salaries, rentals, advertisements, postage, expenses of field forces, expenses of commission and the like, is $260,000.00, and it will be seen that it costs the State but $260,000.00 to administer $9,355,000.00, or a total expense of administration amounting to about three hundredths of one per cent. Further than this, the Department and its work are furnishing a splendid means for a practical adaptation of the State-use system by furnishing healthful employment to our institutional inmates. We shall have approxiniately sixteen miles of highway routes under construction by innate labor during the coming summer, employing about 375 men, of which 225 will be quartered in camps; 75 will live at the Trenton institution, and 75 will live at the Rahway Reformatory. In addition we are mechanically equipped for and propose removing snow from the important Lincoln Highway this winter, and on this work inmate labor will likewise be used. These are facts which I ask you to bear in mind as having an important bearing in connection with any and all legislation concerning the future of New Jersey's highways.
OTHER SUGGESTIONS FOR INDUSTRIAL STIMULATION.
In addition to the highway system, New Jersey holds much opportunity for assisting on its own initiative in the solution of the labor and industrial problems.
First, for instance, New Jersey is the very center of shipbuilding activity. It may be that you will be called upon to provide legislation assisting in giving permanency to these great shipbuilding establishments which have reared themselves practically over-night upon salt marsh. Any suggestions would naturally come from the industry itself.
Second, practical legislation may be found necessary in order that our public school system may lend itself to the ready rehabilitation of soldiers and sailors wounded in the military service.
Third, our river traffic and port projects can be so encouraged that a new demand will be created there for labor and industrial supplies.
Finally, let us not forget that the surest and most lasting policy to adopt in order to insure employment for all classes is to encourage business activity; to offer every co-operation with the construction of public works. Private business should be assured that there will be no unnecessary interference and, with the resumption of activity in all lines, idle labor will readily be absorbed and the problem of employment will solve itself.
All the charts and surveys in the world and all the high sounding, demagogic, Utopian theories for solving the problem over night to the contrary notwithstanding, the only solution to the unemployment problem is to provide the man with a job. Encourage healthy, legitimate business enterprise, and in the natural order of things the jobs will be waiting for the men to fill them.
I feel confident you will grasp every opportunity, respond to
A STATE GRATEFUL TO ITS HEROES.
By way of summarizing the industrial adjustment subject, let me say that unless we fully measure up to the vital needs of the day we are showing ourselves less efficient, less arduous in our patriotism, than those fellow citizens who risked everything, sacrificed all, for our political salvation. They have fought our battles of war for us; now let us fight their battles of peace for them. The heart of every Jerseyman quickens with pride and adoration as we contemplate their patient fortitude and cheerful sacrifices amid the cruel punishment and indescribable discomforts of St. Mihiel, their stout courage under the fire baptismal of Bonvaux Wood, their dogged persistency in the Argonne and before Verdun, and their irresistible valor and triumphant achievement on the Meuse and at Sedan. Our enthusiasm is unbounded, our appreciation defying expression, when we realize that it was the Jersey doughboy who pointed the wedge that crumbled the citadel of Hun defiance at Grandpre, that when hostilities ceased it was the Jersey doughboy who was right at the heels of autocracy's forces, fleeing in disorder across the Meuse and beyond. Ungrateful, indeed, we would be if we did not take every means to demonstrate our appreciation. The mayors of New Jersey's cities, as you know, are striving as a body to arrange for a proper celebration, uniform throughout the State, in honor of the homecoming of our warriors. Their