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Remarks on Signing Public Works Employment and Economic Stimulus Appropriations Bills

May 13, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. I'm very pleased this morning to be able to sign two very important pieces of legislation which I think demonstrate, in a vivid way, the close cooperation that has evolved between the White House and the Congress and between the Federal Government and the local and State government officials.

One of the most important needs that we had when I became President was to assure that we begin to reduce the unemployment rate, which at that time was, I believe, 8.1 percent, and to start our national economy toward a normal growth in prosperity.

These two bills that have now been passed by Congress are a major move in the right direction. Our Secretary of Commerce, Juanita Kreps, has shown a deep interest in this legislation, will administer it well and, I think, has formed a close interrelationship with the congressional committees involved that will stand us in good stead in the future.

House Resolution 11 is a public works bill. It provides $4 billion in immediate funding for State and local governments to proceed with projects that will be very beneficial to the people of our country. The Labor Department has estimated that 300,000 jobs will be provided with this money in the construction industry alone, and at least another 300,000 in related industries concerned with construction.

A good part about it is that this program will be administered at the local and State levels of government, and also that it is not a make-work type job opportunity. The jobs will be in the private sector. I think perhaps the Congress has been a little too strict on requiring that public employees can't participate and perhaps a little too much of an intrusion in the requirements on local and State governments. But these will be private jobs, and I think this is a very good and proper thing to do.

The allocation of funding is on a basis of the number of jobs that need to be provided: the unemployment total figures, 65 percent, and 35 percent on a percentage of unemployment, so that every State gets at least $30 million; the maximum that any State can get is $500 million.

Two percent of the money is set aside for Indians and Alaskan natives, and 10 percent of the total funds have to be spent through minority businesses. These are very good aspects of this legislation.

And I would like to sign now House Resolution 11, and then following that sign another appropriation bill which will make possible even further progress in economic development.

[At this point, the President signed H.R. 11 into law.]

I want to thank the Congress for making it possible for me to do this.

I might point out that already we've had a very good move toward the goals that we established. The unemployment rate has dropped by a full 1 percent in this first few months--not because of me, not because of the Congress, not because of Secretary Kreps or the mayors and Governors, but because of a reaffirmation of the American people's confidence in our own system. And I believe that this has shown up in the public opinion polls. It has also shown up in a better attitude of consumers and business investments in the future.

Recent analyses done by independent private groups have shown that the business plans for investment in the next 12 months are 18 percent--discounted for inflation, more than 10 percent. This is a very good indication of both consumer and business confidence in the future of our country.

House Resolution 4876 is the appropriations bill for the stimulation of our economy. It involves $630 million-$631 million, I believe, to be exact--in countercyclical allocations. That legislation has not been passed yet, but it will be voted on today; $8 billion for public service jobs, which will help to put people back to work who are difficult to employ, and an additional 200,000 jobs for young people.

When I met with the other leaders of the Western World in Europe this past week, the most uniform concern expressed was for jobs for young people, and I think this is a move in the right direction. We've still got a long way to go, but the enlightened attitude of the Congress in passing this legislation with sound principles involved and with no delay is something of which the American people can be proud.

So, I am very glad to sign now House Resolution 4876 that provides more than $20 billion in general revenue sharing funds and opportunities for the American people to go back to work.

[At this point, the President signed H.R. 4876 into law.]

I would like to ask our Secretary of Commerce to say just a word.

SECRETARY KREPS. I'm not sure I'm comfortable in this chair. [Laughter]

I think the only thing that needs to be added is the fact that in addition to creating jobs in the private sector, the local public works legislation will give to the people in the towns and cities throughout the Nation new facilities, new public facilities, libraries, municipal buildings, water treatment plants, which they very much need. And this legacy, this longterm legacy, is as important a part of the legislation as is the job creation.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 a.m. at the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House.

As enacted, H.R. 11 and H.R. 4876 are Public Law 95-28 and Public Law 95-29, respectively, approved May 13.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks on Signing Public Works Employment and Economic Stimulus Appropriations Bills Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244216

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