The President's News Conference Following a Meeting With the Appalachian Governors
THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Ladies and gentlemen, we are running a little bit late, about 15 minutes, for the other meeting. That is not uncommon for men in political life. But we want to give you a very brief resume. of what happened. Those in attendance at the meeting, as you will observe, are Governor Wallace of Alabama, Governor Tawes of Maryland, Governor Rockefeller of New York, Governor Moore of North Carolina, Governor Rhodes of Ohio, Governor McNair of South Carolina, Governor Smith of West Virginia, Governor Clement of Tennessee, and Governor Scranton from Pennsylvania, who was to be spokesman. We were unable to have Governors Godwin, Breathitt, and Sanders.
APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION REPORT FOR 1965
[2.] Governor Scranton and Cochairman Sweeney 1 have presented me with the 1965 Appalachia report,2 which should be available to you. We had a general discussion of the program. I had a brief statement which Mr. Moyers 3 will make available to you. The meat of it was that 100 percent of the highway message, which Congress authorized in Appalachia, had been approved by the Commission. Twenty percent of it was already under the planning and construction stage. We approved 125 public facility projects. We have 105 more under consideration. We had put $400 million extra in development contracts in the Appalachian area in 1965 and 1966 over what we had done in 1964.
1Governor William W. Scranton of Pennsylvania, State Cochairman of the Appalachian Regional Commission, and John L. Sweeney, Federal Cochairman.
2The annual report of the Appalachian Regional Commission, covering the period March 9-June 30, 1965, was transmitted to the President on December 31, 1965 (Government Printing Office, 1965, 27 pp.).
3Bill D. Moyers, Special Assistant to the President. For the statement see Item 123.
Under the educational aid, Appalachia will be a prime beneficiary of the $1.3 billion educational aid bill.
A disproportionate share of the less fortunate people in Appalachia are over age 65. I have been told today that Medicare will substantially ease the financial burden faced by these people and the private and public institutions which provide their hospital and medical services.
I expressed great personal satisfaction from today's meeting. I thanked each of the Governors for their nonpartisan and patriotic support and effective work. We observed that there has been no relationship in my experience in Government that had been more constructive or more cooperative. We are grateful for the leadership of Mr. Sweeney.
That was about it.
I would like for Governor Scranton to make any observations that he may care to make. He made a very fine, constructive statement, and he can repeat as much of it as he dares or cares to. Then each Governor will be glad to make any observations he wants, and will answer any of your questions. I hope you will understand though that we do have them all waiting for us at a 1:30 lunch.
MR. MOYERS. The Appalachia report will be available. The President's opening statement is being mimeographed, and will be available in 15 or 20 minutes.
REMARKS OF THE GOVERNORS
GOVERNOR SCRANTON. I simply reported to the President that I personally know of no Federal program that has started off better than this one. As you know, this is a unique Federal-State relationship. There has never been anything like it before.
As a group, I believe that we feel strongly that it not only works extremely well, but we highly recommended to the President that a relationship of the same sort might be made in other programs of the Federal Government, or in other regional establishments which are now being contemplated under the EDA.
Likewise, we informed him that though our particular budget is forced to take a cut because of the problems in Vietnam, we understood this and were able to arrange it within ourselves, which is remarkable in view of the fact that New York has become a part of us this year, and other States seem to be interested in joining us, too.
We also suggested in the future if he could, by the time that world problems might be a vacant sum, that we might go up. to what we have received in 1965 and 1966. But this has caused no problem in going ahead with the programs, which have been initiated more rapidly and with greater success than any Federal program with which I have been concerned.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor Clement.
GOVERNOR CLEMENT. We are very pleased in Tennessee with the program of the Appalachia plan.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor Smith.
GOVERNOR SMITH. We have been very pleased, and are very glad to be able to help New York get the mileage.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor McNair.
GOVERNOR McNAIR. South Carolina has been very pleased. It has been very helpful.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor Moore.
GOVERNOR MOORE. We think this is the ideal Federal-State relationship. We hope that it can be used in other fields.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor Wallace.
GOVERNOR WALLACE. Alabama is very pleased with the program.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor Tawes.
GOVERNOR TAWES. We are, too.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor Rockefeller.
GOVERNOR ROCKEFELLER. We are pleased with the program, and West Virginia, in reference to the highway program. There was a discussion regarding the possibility of using the authority in the act to allow States to prefinance on programs in view of the cutback which I think was unanimously adopted by the Governors.
THE PRESIDENT. Governor Rhodes.
GOVERNOR RHODES. There has always been a raging question between the States and the Federal Government as to whether they can work together. I think your administration has given a prime example of how they can work together.
We thank you.
THE PRESIDENT. Are there any questions? Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.
Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Johnson's fifty-eighth news conference was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, 1966.
See also Items 121, 123, 124.
Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Following a Meeting With the Appalachian Governors Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/238369