Remarks at a White House Meeting With the National Governors' Association

February 23, 1981

Well, I just want to say this is a time for nostalgia for me. I see some familiar faces around here, and I want you to know that when you're all in town and around a hotel and walking down the corridor, I do the same thing that you do. Somebody says ``Governor,'' and I turn around. [Laughter] But I appreciate this opportunity for some dialog with almost the entire membership of the National Governors' Association and look forward to working with you in a new approach to solving all the problems that, I think, we have together.

I am looking forward to having a coordinating task force on federalism and would appreciate your suggestions before you leave as to how we can organize this. In the meantime I'll be working with Rich Williamson [Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs Richard S. Williamson] on the initial planning stages.

As you know, this is a longtime dream of mine, this thing of balancing up the divisions of government. I think they've been badly distorted over the years. I've dreamed about it before and just today was going through some things that are still in the desk drawers from the old days. And I came across this set of figures -- I don't know what they would be today, but back when I was Governor, that for every 10,000 Americans there are 12 doctors, ll lawyers and judges, 40 gas station attendants, and 37 telephone employees. So, that's a total of 100 for every 10,000 people to keep us healthy and give us legal advice and sit in the courts and fill our cars with gas and take care of the telephones. But there were 130 Federal civilian employees for every 10,000 people, and I thought that was too many then, and I think it's too many now. But the Intergovernmental Affairs Office of the White House will be playing a part in our deliberations.

And I'd like also your thoughts on revenue sharing. Again, my dream has always been that, if possible, the ideal situation would be not the connection of Federal grants but of eventually turning over to the States -- and turning, I'd say, back to the States, tax sources that more properly belong there and which would then help fund responsibilities that also properly belong at the State level instead of at the Federal level.

Now, we haven't made a final decision on some of the things with regard to revenue sharing, but I would like to hear from you and to hear your comments. But first I'm going to call on Governor Busbee for comments from chairmen of your standing committees.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 4 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.

Governor George Busbee of Georgia is chairman of the National Governors' Association.