public education amounts to $28,000,000 a year. In 1913 the state bonded debt was $8,000,000, and as late as 1920 only $11,000,000. It is now more than $170,- 000,000. In 1918 the total debt of local governments was $60,000,000; today it is $375,000,000. The sum total of this period of expansion presents us today with a bonded debt for the State and its subdivisions of $537,000,000.
While our movement to lift the State from its position of prostration and backwardness in the Nation commenced in 1911, it was the period from 1921 that witnessed its major fulfillment. In this period we spent one hundred sixty millions of public funds for the state highway system, eighty millions for school buildings, and thirty-two millions for the enlargement of the State's institutions. The counties, cities, towns, and districts followed the example of the State in providing permanent improvements and in increasing operating expenses.
I, for one, do not wish to be understood as repudiating the wisdom or policy of the program of progress to which through ten years of stirring achievement and growth we have--within sound economic limitations --become committed.
It is true, as I think we are all ready to admit, that such a fiscal and developmental program could not have been carried out without some mistakes. But they were honest mistakes of judgment. In all of the State's expenditures of millions during this period there has never been an instance of dishonesty or graft in the handling of the people's money. It costs money to reclaim "lost provinces," whether it be in the realm of the geography of an imperial commonwealth or in the conservation of human life and opportunity. Where would North Carolina be today if she were contending with the evils of ignorance, the mire of mud, the pov-