Governor Theodore T. Geer's Administration

Biennial Message, 1901

Source: Journal of House of the Legislative Assembly, 1901, Governor's Biennial Message, Salem, Oregon, W.H. Leeds, State Printer, 1901.


Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Section 2 of Article V of the Constitution of Oregon provides that the Governor shall, from time to time, give to the Legislative Assembly such information as to the condition of the state and recommend such legislation as, in his judgment, the public welfare may require.

In cheerful obedience to this mandate I feel disposed to say that by far the most important question that will present itself the most important question that will present itself for your consideration during the session just opening is the one involving the formulation and passage of a measure which will secure the uniform assessment and taxation of the property of the state.
Section 1 of Article IX of the Constitution of Oregon declares that “the Legislative Assembly shall provide by law for uniform and equal rate of assessment and taxation,” but it is within the knowledge of every citizen of the state that quite the reverse of this condition prevails, and the necessity for certain action by this legislature is as generally admitted as the knowledge of existing conditions is widespread. For this reason it is not deemed advisable to more than bring your attention to a few comparisons which will illustrate the utter lack of uniformity which characterizes the operation of the law as it now stands.

As is well understood, the lack of uniformity in the valuation of property by the different assessors of the state has its origin in the unconcealed purpose of each to see that his county is not outstripped in the race to reach the lowest possible level of assessment in order to make the least possible contribution toward the support of the state government. A degree of astonishing success has attended this headlong rush, which began in 1894, until a point has been reached where the people themselves stand appalled and are demanding a halt. The valuation of the taxable property in the state in 1893, as returned by the assessors, was $168,000,000.

Notwithstanding the fact that our population since that time has rapidly increased, and every county in the state has materially advanced in all lines of substantial wealth, the assessed value of the property of the state has fallen to $118,000,000, a decrease of $50,000,000. When, in the gradual and systematic reduction of the valuation of the property of the state, the sum of about $150,000,000 had been reached, the then Secretary of State officially declared that it was only about one-third of its real value, and yet the bottom had not been reached.

With a degree of absolute indifference to the requirements of the law and the constitution, the process of purposeful undervaluation of all kinds of property has been pursued until the sum of about $118,000,000, as has been stated, is the certified valuation of all property in the property in the state subject to taxation.

The limit to which this systematic evasion of the law can go has been reached. Practically we have no law on the subject. The chaotic forms under which we are at present working are farcical in the extreme, and if forty days do not afford sufficient time in which to give the people a law on this question that will in some measure meet the plain requirements of the constitution, an extra session, immediately following, will be much cheaper than two years more of a confessed effort to see which county can reach the lowest point of undervaluation.

The inclination here is to go into an extended dissertation on the theory and object of taxation in general, but this has been done so many times by my predecessors, and that, too, without visible effect, that I prefer to be content with a brief statement of conditions, with the hope that your understanding of the situation and your honesty of purpose will guarantee the enactment of a measure that will, in a large degree, be an effective remedy.

In the matter of securing a certain cure for the difficulty that confronts us, nothing need be done unless it includes some means of compelling compliance with the law on the past of the assessors. All other effort is as sinking sand. The failure of the assessors to do their duty has been a source of complaint since the formation of our state government. It is interesting to note that in 1868 Hon. Samuel E. May, Secretary of State, said in his report to the legislature: “I am confident that the present rate of taxation could, with safety to the state credit, which, I am proud to say, is unimpaired, be materially reduced, if all the property of the state was assessed equally. Even though the forms of the law are adhered to in the administration of any public duty, prudence would dictate that when a constant adherence to such custom leads to unfairness, by unequally distributing the burdens of government among the people, proper remedies should be adopted to remove the injustice. This inequality may be greatly diminished, if not entirely overcome, by the establishment of a board of equalization, composed of competent men, chosen from different sections of the state, to supervise and readjust the assessors’ lists.”

In 1870, Secretary May repeated his recommendations, as well as his complains, and after the amount of taxable property in the state as nearly $27,000,000, added, “I feel confident that the actual amount of taxable property is largely in excess of the amount given. Some mode of assessing should be devised by which a more accurate and full amount of taxable property should be arrived at.” In this connection, he renewed his recommendation for a Board of Equalization.

In 1972, largely at the request of Secretary of State Chadwick, a State Board of Equalization was created, consisting of three members. In his report, in 1874, the Secretary of State recommended some change in the law, but instead of heeding it, the legislature repealed the law outright. At that time the secretary called the attention of the legislature to the fact that “some of the counties having the advantage of water communication with the shipping ports, have actually decreased in property values in sixteen years.” In his message to the legislature in 1872, Governor Grover said:

“There is now a manifest inequality in the assessments of the several counties of the state returned upon the same classes of property of equal value. There also exists in several counties of the state returned upon the same classes of property of equal value. There also exists in several counties a gross undervaluation of all classes of property. While this condition of things would make but little difference with county finances, it greatly diminishes the funds which should come into the State Treasury, being based upon a percentage of the assessments, and not upon a fixed proportion to be raised in each county.”

Again, he says that “There is a gross undervaluation of the property of the whole state, produced by our present vicious mode of assessment. This state has property, as its cash value, over and above its liabilities, to the amount of $120,000,000. Our last state assessment was $34,000,000.” And he adds that the property value of the state has increased four-fold within the past ten years, while the assessed valuation had increased but thirty-five percent.

These references to the history of the question of taxation in Oregon show that it has been a perplexing one from the beginning, and that in all these years of repeated effort, no progress whatever, in the matter of securing uniformity of assessment and taxation, as required by the constitutional provision referred to, has been made. Some of the features of the law, as it now stands, were incorporated as early as 1854, and our present system, if it may be called a system, is the result of a continuous piece of haphazard patchwork that nobody will own and few will indorse.

No system of taxation has yet been devised in any state or in any country that gives perfect satisfaction. In New York state, which has been at work on this question for more than one hundred years, there is much complaint about “the inequality of taxation.” In his last message to the legislature of New York, Governor Roosevelt said: “At present our system of taxation is in utter confusion, full of injustices and queer anomalies.”


Last year the state of Texas passed a law providing for the appointment of a commission to frame an assessment law that should “provide for an exhaustive and equitable assessment of all taxes upon every species of property in this state, real, personal, mixed, tangible, and intangible, and whether belonging to natural or artificial, to residents or nonresidents, to the end that no character of property, assets, holdings or valuation interests shall escape the due, just and equal burdens of lawful taxation.”

In making its report to the legislature, the commission says that “no systematic plan is in use in this state for valuing property and equalizing it for taxation, and it is unfortunately too true that in this respect inequality it the rule, and uniformity the exception.”

There seems a general tendency everywhere to conceal successfully personal property from taxation. The low valuation of real estate in our cities, when coupled with the almost complete elimination of personal property from consideration, has come to give the entire question the aspect of a hollow mockery when placed under the test of the constitution requirement of uniformity and equality. One of the mayors of New York City said, a few years ago, that “if all the personal property liable to taxation under the law could be reached and assessed New York would have a lower rate than any other municipality in the world without collecting one cent from real estate. Farmers are favored under the present system of undervaluation only so far as real estate is concerned, but their personal property is of tangible nature and could not well be concealed, if an attempt were made.”

But Oregon is suffering at this time with a case of combined inequality and undervaluation in acute form. All pretense to observe the law has been thrown to the winds and the effort to see which county can get away from it the farthest has become a matter of public record.
In some instances, where the assessment rolls have shown a large reduction below the year before, the findings have been still further reduced by the County Board of Equalization, for the publicly expressed reason that the returns for some other county had shown a great reduction for the year next preceding, and it was thought necessary to not be outdone in the race for the lowest assessment. In these cases it is not claimed that the law has been followed, but that in the effort to get as far as possible from the law it is necessary to be somewhere near the lead.
The legislature of 1891 passed a law providing for the creation of a State Board of Equalization, consisting of nine members, chosen by the people, which, after a stormy existence of seven years, was summarily abolished at the extra session in 1898. It was generally composed of conscientious men who fell short of performing their duty through the lameness of the law in not conferring sufficient authority and in the uniform persistent of he county assessors in disregarding the law governing the time in which they should make the return of the assessment rolls. The unsatisfactory work of the board resulted in a general demand for its abolition, which was also shared by some of its members. So certain was the legislature that the work of this board was worse than no equalization at all, that it added an emergency clause to the repealing law, to prevent its annual session, which would have occurred during the month next following. Evidently seeing its mistake and wishing to make some reparation, the same legislature, at its regular session in 1899, instead of re-enacting the same law, with its members limited, perhaps, to three members, with ample power to accomplish its purpose and with an amendment, power to accomplish its purpose and with an amendment, compelling, in some way, the assessors to comply with the law, created a Board of Equalization consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer.

It was with deep regret that I felt impelled to interpose the executive veto against this measure, out of the high respect in which I held the senators and representatives who voted for it, and for the additional reason that some remedial legislation along this line was urgently needed; but the absolute certainty that a board so constructed, with the wholly inadequate powers given it, as was abundantly proven by the inability of the preceding board to satisfy even its own conception of what was required of it by the demand of the people for its repeal and the prompt recognition of that demand by the legislature, could, under the circumstances, do no better than its predecessors, seemed, after mature deliberation with the Secretary of State and State Treasurer, to be paving the way for another unavoidable failure in a different form. With all due respect to that legislature, my judgment is that a grave mistake was made when the Board of Equalization was abolished. Unless some measure is adopted which will assess the amount of the state tax due from each county against that county, in a lump sum, letting the county adopt its own method of raising it (and this would be the best method that could be devised), there is no part of the machinery of government that is more important or indispensable than a board of equalization, with ample power to enforce its findings absolutely and without delay. But this presupposes a stringent law that will in some way force an assessor to do what is required of him. Under the present system certain things are required of the assessors without even the shadow of a penalty to be enforced in case of non-conformity with the law. All effort to equalize taxes by means of a state board until this glaring defect is remedied will be absolutely without value.

It was during the life of this board that the total assessed valuation began to decline rapidly. The highest figure was reached in 1893—$168,000,000—but in every succeeding year, although in some instances the state board increased the aggregate valuation by several millions, the amount was smaller than for the year before. This only serves to emphasize the fact that any effort to reform existing conditions will be futile, unless it begins with some measure that will compel a prompt compliance with the law on the part of the county assessors. Surely the constitutional requirement of uniformity of assessment and taxation was not the imposition of an impossibility, and if not, then there was never a more opportune time to demonstrate it than now.

For very valuable data, showing the astounding inequality at present existing in the valuations of the same kind of property in the different counties, you are respectfully referred to the report of the Secretary of State.

No State Board of Equalization could justly hope to equalize the property of the entire state under twenty days of continuous application. No more delicate or important duty could devolve upon any set of state officers, and it should be given the most thorough and careful consideration. This would be manifestly impossible in a state where, as in ours, almost the entire public business is performed by various boards, composed of four state officers, all of whose time is now practically occupied, especially during the winter months, by the multifarious duties required of them. The task of equalizing the property of the entire state should be undertaken by a board which could give its entire attention to that work, uninterrupted by other business until it is concluded. The measure under consideration, provided that the state officers should meet on the first Monday in December of each year and “continue in session until they have received the abstracts of the assessment rolls of the several counties.” But there are many days, for a week at a time, when neither of the state officers mentioned could spare a moment’s time, and more especially during the month of December, for the consideration of questions pertaining to the duties of a State Board of Equalization, without, indeed, neglecting or suspending other business, to attend to which, even now, it becomes necessary in all these offices to put in extra hours during many nights of the year. This is especially true of the office of Secretary of State, where some of the clerks, and often the secretary himself, are obliged to work not only during a part of many nights in the year, but this necessity included many Sundays, also. This is not said with the spirit or even a tinge of complaint, but for the purpose of expressing a fact the public should understand.

To those critics who have censured me for vetoing this measure, on the ground that an occasional absence from the Capitol of some of the state officers during one of the summer or fall months, either on business, which is often necessary, or on a short vacation, proves that this work could have been undertaken, it is only necessary to say that the work of equalizing the state taxes could not have been taken up merely now and then, as an odd job, but was to be begun on the first Monday in December, and the board was required to sit in continuous session until the assessment summaries from the various counties had been received. But, not withstanding these objections, the state officers might have undertaken this work if they has not been required to proceed, under a law which was in no particular different from the one under which the former board made a confessed failure. With the best of intentions, the last legislature passed an act (Senate Bill 76) providing that “within twenty days from the time the assessment roll of any county has been equalized by the County Board of Equalization, the county clerk shall transmit to the Secretary of State a certified copy thereof.” But suppose he does not—then what is to be done? There is no power anywhere, either in the executive or judiciary, that has been discovered, by the exercise of which the county clerk can be punished for a non-compliance with the law. Indeed, he himself, is powerless, unless the assessor has completed his work in time for such compliance. And the assessor is as exempt from punishment for a failure to comply with the law as the clerk. Indeed, under our present system the county assessor, more than any other county or state officer, is subject to his discretion only, and it would probably by difficult to devise a law by means of which to successfully mandamus a man’s discretion.

Under the law as it stands now there is no certainty when a summary of an assessment roll will reach the capital. The law is itself very implicit, and no man can surely say what it really means to the time limit. But no matter what it means, the county authorities follow their own discretion in the matter so far, that under a law which is supposed to require the returns to be made on the first Monday in December, some of them were not made last year until in January. Of course no step, whatever, can be taken toward equalizing the state taxes until the summaries from all the counties have been filed in the office of the Secretary of State, and this year the summaries of three of the most populous counties in the state were not received until January 11. I trust this presentation of facts, as they exist, will demonstrate to you that a law, requiring the state officers to constitute a Board of Equalization should be complete in details, having in view the proper discharge of their other duties, but I believe such a law is altogether feasible.

Under our system, as it now stands, the work of a State Board of Equalization would have to be done in the month of December, or later, and at least every other year, therefore, at exactly the time when the state officers are crowded with the preparation of their biennial reports to the very limit of their capacity for work. On top of all this and into the very midst of it, the responsible and careful duty of equalizing the entire property of the state should not be thrust, for reasons that must be apparent to every man who has investigated the subject. If this duty could be performed and concluded during the summer months, or any time before the first of December, it would be different, but the time set apart for it comes at the very season when other public business is at its highest pressure.

I leave the solution of this question with you, gentlemen, where it belongs, with the advice to steer clear of the breakers, which have often in the past wrecked the best legislative intentions in the very multiplicity of propositions, each bearing some good features, perhaps, but blocking the way to a necessary agreement. In my judgment you should adopt one of two theories. The best one, if it can be had, will be to devise some system by which the state can assess a certain amount against each country, for state purposes, in proportion to its wealth or population, providing that the first taxes collected shall be paid on the state tax. This would at once and effectually destroy the incentive to undervaluation; would result in a benefit to the state and county; would remove the annoyance and expense of delinquent state taxes, and dispense with the necessity for a State Board of Equalization. It seems feasible and certainly has more elements of fairness in it than any system yet proposed. I am disposed to specifically recommend this method of raising the state’s revenue as appealing most strongly to my judgment as the best and simplest one yet presented. Just so far as the system finally adopted differs from the central idea of this one, just that far will it fail to accord with the constitutional ideal of uniformity and equality.

The only other practical system is the one somewhat similar to our present method, compelling prompt returns by the county assessors, with a State Board of Equalization of some kind, clothed with power to enforce its findings unquestioned and unquestionable. For this purpose, unless the state officers are commissioned with that task, under a law conforming with their other duties, a board of three members should be created. It is believed that number would accomplish the purpose better than a larger one and would be less expensive. It should be either elected by the people or appointed by the Governor. The latter method has two features in its favor—a responsibility for its personnel, definitely fixed, and, therefore, more care insured in its selection, and its removal from the wrangles of party conventions and politics in general.

In Iowa, which is one of the best governed states in the union, the valuations are practically equalized before the assessment is made. The township assessors meet before the time for the assessment and practically agree on valuations of property by classes, and of different grades in the same class, and the after work is principally to find the property. Of course we have no township organizations, but the County Board of Equalization can as well fix the value of horses, cattle, real estate, etc., in its county as could the assessors and with much less liability to partiality. It is within the knowledge of everybody that the assessor seldom actually sees and personally examines the property he lists. In nearly every case the owner is himself questioned as to the probably value of the property, and is asked of he thinks a certain figure is too high.
Any new assessment law should include the taxation of incorporations of all kinds doing business within the state. In most cases the business itself should be taxed. There are many corporations doing business to the amount of many thousands of dollars per annum, but which have practically no personal or real property. All these should be made to contribute their share toward the support of the state government, and it is hoped you will investigate this phase of the subject thoroughly. The Secretary of State has compiled some valuable statistics touching this question, accompanied by appropriate recommendations, to which I call your attention as a profitable aid.

It is presumed and hoped that you will not adjourn without the enactment of a plain, just and easily understood out the enactment of a plain, just and easily understood assessment law. It should be direct and unambiguous. In an opinion delivered to the County Commissioner’s Court of Multnomah, in December last, an ex-Attorney General of the state, said: “The laws of this state on the question of assessment and taxation and the duties of the several officers in respect thereto are a heterogeneous mass, thrown together in a crazy quilt fashion, by successive legislatures, to suit the whims of the occasion of locality, and, therefore, difficult to construe with anything like a feeling of security.”

If the present system in outline is to be continued you can make no improvement that ignores the necessity of thwarting the general tendency to crowd values down instead of holding them up. All criticism of the work of assessors in lowering valuations should be tempered with the reflection that public sentiment has in one way and another encouraged and justified it. It is believed, however, that the extreme which has been reached with the requirement of the law.
When it is recalled that every biennial message for more than thirty years has made the same plea and along the same lines as that to which you are now listening, and that, notwithstanding, the condition has grown steadily worse, the prospect is almost without hope. Without variation, the policy at every session has been the introduction of “An act to amend an act entitled an act to further amend some other act” referred to as having been passed before the state was admitted into the union. A system that will allow the assessed valuation of the state to be reduced by the sum of $50,000,000 during eight years surely has no further claims upon your patience or consideration. The State of Washington, which is far below Oregon in actual wealth, has this year returned for assessable purposes a full $100,000,000 more than has our state. And the law in Washington has several good features that we could adopt with profit, among which is the provision that ignores the property owner, the tax being assessed against the property. The owner must hunt the official and pay his tax, without notice, or it becomes delinquent and the property is sold. There is not a man in the entire State of Oregon who does not know whether he has been assessed, and, therefore, whether he is owing any taxes. To notify a man of a thing which he already knows is not only superfluous, but in this case is an expensive superfluity. There is no man so uninformed that he does not know whether he owes any taxes and that they must be paid. The law requiring notification is useless and has been discarded by many states which are in the front rank of tax reform. In Washington the county treasurer is tax collector until the taxes become delinquent. The money goes directly where it belongs. The collector merely receives the money and issues receipts. Our system is this respect is precisely the reverse of what it should be. Instead of the authorities seeking the taxpayer, the taxpayer should seek the authorities. What we need as much as anything else is the adoption of a system of business regularity and promptitude. It would not only cost the taxpayer no more eventually, but would cost him less.

Another feature is the payment of taxes semi-annually, and assessments which are made only once in two years are made in conformity with the law.

I commend to your favorable consideration, as worthy of careful examination, the laws of both Washington and Idaho on the general subject of assessment and taxation.

From the nature of communications received at the executive office at intervals during the last two years asking for information as to the manner of disposing of the public lands, it is inferred that the people generally are not familiar with the laws governing land sales, and that, therefore, suspicion that something may be wrong finds lodgment in the public mind. All the details of these matters should be public mind. All the details of these matters should be understood by the public, and, for that reason, it is deemed proper to make a more complete statement in regard to them than has usually been the custom in public messages.

The sales of school lands during the past year, and especially the last few months, have been very large, the receipts for the month of December last amounting to more than $26,000, or an average of $1,000 per day.

Under the provisions of a law passed at the last session of the legislature, “any person who is over eighteen years of age and is a citizen of the United States, or has declared intention to become such,” is entitled to purchase any of the lands of the state by making a proper affidavit to these facts and to the further fact that the proposed purchase is for his or her own benefit and not for the purpose of speculation, and that in no contract or agreement, expressed or implied, has been made for the sale or disposition of the land, etc. It has been under this provision that these large sales have been made. It has been publicly said that many of these applicants to purchase are men employed by capitalists for a nominal fee, and that their certificates of sale have been immediately assigned to the man by whom they were employed. Whether this is true in any case the State Land Board had no means of knowing. Nothing could be more impossible than for the land officers to identify and establish the character of an applicant to purchase state lands. Most of these certificates come by mail—few of the applicants ever appearing in person. The law does not contemplate that they shall. A man living in New York, being a citizen of the United States, has as much right to purchase our state lands as though he lived in Oregon, and if he sends his affidavit, exactly conforming to every requirement of the law, accompanied by the purchase price, no officer has any right to refuse him a certificate of sale. The object of the law in question is clearly to stimulate the sale of these lands rather than their settlement, because occupancy is nowhere required or mentioned. Oregon today has the best body of timber land, both in extent and quality, to be found on this continent. It was to secure this land that a vast majority of the purchases have been made, most of it wholly unfit for settlement and always will be. The probabilities are that no matter who the owners may be, most of it will be yet covered with timber for the next fifty years. The fact is well known to everybody, and was certainly in the mind of those who enacted the law. It is not required by its terms that the purchaser shall occupy the land in any sense, nor that he shall have ever seen it or been near it. The fact that so much valuable timber lands is to be had in Oregon is well known everywhere, and since the people of the United States have been by the terms of the act invited to purchase it, no one need by surprised that advantage has been taken of the offer. The terms under which the citizen of Maine may purchase any of this land without ever leaving his state are plainly set out. He is only required to make affidavit to certain facts. The burden of proof rests upon him, and, if he complies with every exaction required by the state, he is entitled to the land. The State Land Board is not merely authorized to sell this land, being left as a discretionary matter, but it is expressly stated that any citizen of the United States, upon making the required affidavit, “is entitled to purchase,” his rights in the matter being thereby fully established.

The only thing required by this law is to establish the right of any man to purchase three hundred and twenty acres of these lands is for him to make the required affidavit. It is altogether probable that many men are employed for the purpose of securing certificated for immediate assignment in order to evade the provision restricting sales of more than three hundred and twenty acres to one person. But if so it has been done through plain perjury which the Land Board has had no means whatever of detecting. The requirements of the law have been fully compiled with in every case, the money has been paid into the State Treasury, and if any false swearing has been done in any instance, it is within the province of any aggrieved or suspicious citizen to make complaint at any time against the suspected offender. For obvious reasons the State Land Officers could not undertake this kind of work, since it would necessitate the inauguration of the practice of investigating every application made by a man who might be personally unknown to them. There is as much reason for suspecting dishonesty of one stranger who makes application to purchase as another, and since of the thousands who have availed themselves of this offer of the state, not one percent of them is known to the land officers; to adopt the policy of suspecting every stranger, followed necessarily by an investigation of every suspicion, would convert the land department into a court of inquiry whose business in that line would require continuous sessions. If, however, there has been any false swearing in this matter to any extent, it is neither the fault of the State Land Board nor of the law, but must rest with the men who, for a paltry sum, have knowingly committed perjury.

Since most of these lands, however, are timbered sections and, therefore, not suited for settlement, but can be of no value until the timber is converted into lumber, it is not believed that the present manner of their disposition will deprive many, if any, intending settlers of homes. The mistake has been made in not at least doubling the price of all our public lands long before this. Our irreducible school fund should have been, and could have been easily, twice what it is if this policy has been adopted twenty years ago. Since the best lands have now been sold, it is too late to retrieve any part of the loss by increasing their price. It seems a poor policy, however, to continue adding to the irreducible school fund if a sacrifice is made for that purpose, when there is now on hand nearly $600,000 which cannot be loaned, the amount of idle money having been increased during the last two years by over $150,000. There is no necessity for adding to the sum until some provision is made for its investment. The Land Board has loaned every dollar for which application has been made when the security has seemed sufficient to accord with the requirement of the law. It is believed that no bad loans have been made, it having been deemed better to keep the money in the treasury than to risk its loss. A suggestion as to the advisability of providing for the investment of these idle funds in some kind of securities is made in the report of the State Land Board, to which your attention is invited for a full and detailed account of the business done in that department during the last two years. It is desired by the board that you appoint a committee to examine in the most thorough manner its record made since the last biennial session.

Under the laws and rules governing the land department of the general government, all known mineral lands are withheld from grants to the state, and when it is found that the sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections, or the greater part of any legal subdivision thereof, is more valuable for mineral than any other purpose, and it was known to be such prior to the date of survey, the land so found is withheld from the state, but the state is permitted to select an equal amount in acreage from any of the public lands subject to entry under the homestead laws; these selections are known as lieu or indemnity lands, and the mineral lands for which these lieu selections are made are known as “base” or “basis.”

Unless the field notes of the United States deputy surveyor making the surveys state that the lands surveyed are mineral, the burden of proof of the mineral character rests with the state or any individual who may have an interest in the lands.

Under the law and rules of the department it is necessary to first file a list of the sections and parts of sections alleged to be more valuable for mineral than or other purposes with the register and receiver of the district in which the lands are located. The register and receiver will them order a hearing at a given date, notice of which must be given by a publication for five consecutive weeks in some weekly newspaper of general circulation nearest the lands so advertised.

At the date of hearing each tract must be proven to be mineral and known to be such prior to date of survey by at least two reputable witnesses. Therefore, to establish the mineral character of the sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections in the state requires careful research both as to location and as to valid proof involving much time and large expense, all of which must be paid, whether the mineral character is established or not. It will thus be seen that the process necessary to establish the mineral character of school sections is expensive and uncertain. In addition to this there is such a small quantity of it remaining that to undertake its adjudication by an agent of the state would diminish to the extent of its cost the price to be received for the indemnity lands. Most of the timbered lands selected in lieu of these basis are as easily worth to the purchasers the sum of $10 per acre as they are the $2.50 received by the state, and for this reason the state has refused to still further reduce the price of them by adding to their cost. If private parties have wanted lieu lands badly enough to incur the expense of establishing a base for them, instead of the state doing it, the state has sold such selection and thereby realized the full price of them to the treasury. It is rightfully presumed that in all such cases the purchaser knew whether the land was worth enough more to him than the $2.50 an acre to justify the added expense of furnishing the base, and that he so regarded it or he would not have desired it. The only object the state has had in this matter was to secure the full $2.50 an acre to the treasury, holding that even at this price the purchaser of the land has not paid in most cases more than twenty-five per cent of its value.

The office of the State Land Agent was created six years ago for the sole purpose of making these selections and others, and after four years Hon. T. W. Davenport, who has been the agent during that term, reported to the Governor that there was not a sufficient amount of selections remaining to be made to warrant a continuance of his office, and he recommended its abolition unless other duties were added to it, the latter of which was done two years ago. To leave the establishment of the remaining base lands to private enterprise is the only method by which the state can realize even the low price of $2.50 an acre for its indemnity lands, but if the state undertakes it the price should be advanced sufficiently to at least cover the probable cost of adjudication.

Section 26 of Senate Bill 126, Laws, 1899, provides that he State Land Board shall proceed immediately to “foreclose all mortgages which are not adequate security for the debt, or upon with there is more than one year’s interest in arrears.” In obedience to this requirement, the board has foreclosed one hundred and sixty mortgages, using as much leniency as was compatible with the public interest. By reference to this section you will notice that it terminates abruptly in the middle of a sentence. The investigation has shown that the perfected bill which passed both houses and was regularly signed by their officers, contains the remainder of the section which proceeds to authorize the board to sell all lands secured by foreclosure of mortgages, to give the title to the same, and confirms purchases already made. This important part of the bill, as it passed both houses, was omitted by some clerk on the enrolling committee and does not appear in the enrolled bill, a copy of which was sent to the State Printer. Having this knowledge, the State Land Board has proceeded to sell as much o these lands as possible through the State Land Agency.

On January 1, 1899, the state had in its possession forty-eight farms it had acquired by foreclosure, amounting to seven thousand four hundred and fifty-eight acres, and which had cost $82,945. Since that time there have been one hundred and sixty foreclosures, amounting to thirty-seven thousand two hundred and forty-three acres, and aggregating $231,810. The total amount is two hundred and eight farms of forty-four thousand seven hundred and one acres, representing $314,755. During this time the State Land Agent has sold ninety-two farms for $188,880, which had cost he state $165,935, being a net gain of $22,945. This cost of $165,935 included the principal of the loan, all the delinquent taxes that had accrued and all other cost of foreclosures, only the interest in arrearage being omitted fro the computation. Sixteen thousand dollars which has been collected for rents and $2,700 for partial sales, of added to the excess of $22,945, will equal the amount of back interest.

Until the law of 1899 was passed, providing for a State Land Agent, whose duty it would be to find purchasers and renters for these foreclosed lands, there was no one to look after them and the rents had been left uncollected for several years in some instances, and in many others it was altogether lost.

These farms have been sold generally with a one-fifth payment down, the remainder to be paid on demand at six percent interest, and, in case of default, in all cases the terms are such that the certificate of sale can be cancelled without cost and the money already paid forfeited to the state. This is better than a mortgage, because in case of default of payment the title reverts to the state without any cost whatever.

Considering that these lands are situated in every county in the state, for which either purchasers or renters must be found, that rents must be collected, and that to attend to which they must be visited in person in nearly every case, it can be easily understood that the transaction of these duties requires a cast amount of labor. There are yet one hundred and sixteen farms belonging to the state and a few others under process of foreclosure. It is believed these figures make a very creditable showing in this department for the last two years.

It will be your duty to amend the section of the law to which I have just referred in accordance with its well-defined intention.

Provision was made at the last session for working convicts on the public roads leading from the penitentiary to the various state institutions, for the purchase of materials for such roads, for the employment of extra guards for such purpose, and a roadmaster at a salary of $60 per month, and to pay the expenses of which the sum of $2,500 was appropriated. It requires a vast amount of gravel to make a permanent road in this country, and it was soon discovered that, to make satisfactory progress in the matter, would require a number of teams to transport the gravel from the creek beds to the roads. The law required the superintendent “to use the state teams under his control in doing such work when they are not otherwise employed.” But, as may be supposed, the state already had only such teams as its regular work demanded, before the road work was authorized, so that, unless additional teams could be purchased with the appropriation, it become manifest at once that the road work could be prosecuted only at intervals. The Attorney-General decided that the law would not permit the purchase of teams, so the work has necessarily been hampered from the beginning. Nevertheless, a pretty fair showing has been made. A saving of the fund has been effected by the employment of a roadmaster for only three months in 1899, and no guards have been employed at any time. The regularly employed farmer at the penitentiary is a very competent road-builder, and since none but the state teams could be used, by was given charge of them and enough “trusties” to handle all the gravel that could be moved, thus saving the expense of a road-builder and guards, and at the same tine using as much convict labor as could be made available under the law. To enable the farmer to devote all his time to the road work while the teams were thus employed, the warden largely looked after the farmer’s other duties, and by interchanging duties between several officers the expense of employing a professional road-builder was saved by the state.

There is now on hand the sum of $750 unexpended. The purpose contemplated by the law is a god one, and the defect here outlined should be remedied at this session. You are respectfully referred to the report of the superintendent of the penitentiary for a full account of the results secured under its provisions.

There is no more flagrant case of ingratitude than that shown by the general government toward the Indian war veterans of this Northwest Pacific Coast, who unselfishly performed such a leading part in wresting this country from the hands of savages and vesting its title in the United States government. There are now no doubt thousands of names on the national pension rolls representing men far less worthy of a national bounty than these original settlers on this coast, who in order to save their homes were often compelled to leave their families huddled together while they resisted the attacks of the murderous Indians. For many years our delegations in congress have labored diligently to secure recognition of these deserving pioneers, but without avail. Success has seemed nearer during this congress than at any time in the past, but just now the outlook is indeed doubtful. It is generally conceded that if the bill now pending fails there is no use to ever entertain hope again. Many of these men who were a few years ago actively engaged in pushing this claim are now numbered with the dead, and those remaining are fast approaching the time when non earthly help will be of any avail. I understand you will be asked to take steps toward assisting in some way the creation of a sentiment in congress that will insure the passage of the bill now pending providing for the reward of these few remaining white-haired pioneers. I bespeak for them your earnest support of whatever measure may tend to hasten this end.

I call your special attention to the report of the Adjutant-General, which you will find gives a full account of the workings of the military department of the state government. When the Second Regiment of Oregon Volunteers returned from the Philippines we had no National Guard. It had to be thoroughly reorganized, and so prompt were the young men of the state to respond to the opportunity that when the required number of companies had been secure the offer to organize several others had to be rejected. There are now eighteen companies of infantry, two troop of cavalry, and one light battery of artillery. This represents a somewhat smaller force than we had before the breaking out of the Spanish War, but is thought sufficient for the present at least. Since our people are peaceably disposed and the prospects for domestic disturbances of any kind very remote, it is thought best to not make the military establishment of the state too prominent. Such as we have, however, should be made thorough in military discipline and practice, to the end that when there might be need for a local militia for police duty or for furnishing the state’s quota in the event of foreign difficulties, we would be ready for a prompt response. The National Guard is now quite liberally supported by the state and assisted also to some extent by the general government. It is believed that it is now better equipped in every way than ever before in the history of the state, and that in the character of its rank and file, of its officers, and in its general efficiency it will compare favorably with that of any state west of the Mississippi River. You will find the report of the Adjutant-General replete with statistical and other information of a very valuable nature.

It is believed that the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society of Portland is doing very effective work in the way of providing homes for orphan children and for the children of parents who, through poverty or negligence, allow them to become wayward and unmanageable. There are more children and parents who come within this description than the general public may suppose. This avoidance of public duty renders it necessary for the public to assume it, and no better agency can be named than the aid society of Portland. The motto of this society declares, “It is wiser and less expensive to save children than to punish criminals,” and being under the control of a board of prominent men and women, who are able and willing to devote a large share of their time to its objects, I cheerfully recommend a continuation of the state aid which has been granted to it in the past.

Under the requirements of a law passed at the last session of the legislature the Governor was directed to appoint an entirely new Board of Agriculture, which was to take immediate control of the management of the state fair. This duty was performed and the result of the change has proven of the highest benefit to that institution. For the first time in many years a fair was held last September which met the expectation of the public, proved a financial success and established its reputation as a state fair in fact as well as in name. This result was attained in spite of unfavorable weather during two days of the fair by the application of purely business principles and unceasing industry. It was regarded by competent judges as the largest and best exhibition of find stock every made west of the Rocky Mountains, the estimated value of which being little less than $500,000. The competition thus engendered has already resulted in the importation of a large amount of blooded stock of various kinds and has aroused an interest among stock men in all parts of the state. A state fair to be worthy of the name and of state support, should be so managed that the people generally will be interested in its success and benefits. The lack of this fact has been back of the repeated failures that have attended our state fair in its past history. Now, that it is on a better footing, has proven a financial success and has taken on a character that has removed it from the charge of being a merely local exhibition, I cheerfully bespeak for it a generous consideration, at your hands, of its actual necessities. The state is now the actual owner of the lands pertaining to the fair grounds and whatever improvements made there are simply investments on its property. I call your attention to the report of the State Board of Agriculture for a detailed statement of the facts here outlined.

Among the first and one of the important duties confronting you will be the election of a senator of the United States for the ensuing six years. It is to be hoped that you will, without unnecessary delay, unite upon some citizen of the state, well qualified to discharge the duties of the office, and thus be better prepared to approach the consideration of questions of purely local importance to the state. In this connection I desire to earnestly urge upon you the unquestioned necessity of passing a resolution calling upon congress to call a convention for the purpose of submitting an amendment to the National Constitution providing for the election of United States senators by a direct vote of the people. Article 5 of the Constitution of the United States provides that on the application of two-thirds of the states, congress shall call a convention for proposing amendments. The National House of Representatives has, within recent years, adopted resolutions on four different occasions in favor of electing senators by a popular vote, but the senate has never concurred and for obvious reasons probably never will.

The present National House of Representatives passed such a resolution by the decisive vote of two hundred and forty to fifteen. The other method provided in the National Constitution for its own amendment is for two-thirds of the states, through their legislatures, to make application to congress to call a national convention for the purpose of proposing amendments to that instrument. This method is feasible, easily followed and will quickly reach the desired result. The election of United States senators by the state legislatures is the one feature bf our system of government, as handed down by the fathers, that is out of harmony with its otherwise ideal plan, and I trust you will not adjourn without formally passing a resolution conforming with the terms of this recommendation.

The last legislature passed a law providing for the payment from the state treasury of a bounty amounting to $2 on each scalp of certain wild animals mentioned therein, when presented to and verified by the proper officers. The different county courts were instructed to make certain levies on property mentioned to provide for payment of the expense incurred under said law. The law went into effect at once, and the people of the counties where wild animals abound began to avail themselves of its provisions. But since no levies were at the times made, and could not be for nearly one year, an enormous number of certificates for warrants were presented to the Secretary of State before any funds were provided for their payment. At the same time, the courts of several of the counties decided that the law is sectional and therefore unjust, and therefore unconstitutional, the result being that we now have on hand two years of warrants against a fund that does not, in fact, exist, save in small degree. Many of the larger counties have never anything into the fund, and evidently do not intend to. Probably the friends of the measure have been surprised at the large number of animals which have been caught that come within its provisions, the total amounting to fifty thousand representing warrants against the state treasury to the amount of $100,000, for the payment of which only $10,000 have been paid by the several counties. This leaves outstanding warrants to the amount of $90,000, bearing interest. It will be your duty to provide for the payment in some manner. If there is no way of compelling the payment of this money into the treasury in the manner provided by law, it should be paid promptly out of the general fund. The state has incurred the obligation to pay these warrants, and if the method provided for doing so is inefficient, then a direct appropriation should be made for that purpose. Nothing less than this will maintain the good name and credit of the state. Whether it will be wise to continue the policy paying bounties for scalps is for your to determine. I wish to add, only, that if you adopt the principle of disallowing every appropriation that does not directly benefit all parts of the state alike, you will most surely lessen the total amount by more than one-half.

I desire to call your attention to a provision of the laws of the United States, approved August 18, 1894, providing for the reclamation of arid lands. In this act the Secretary of the Interior is authorized and empowered, upon the proper application by a state containing arid lands, to contract with said state to grant to it an amount of such lands not to exceed state to grant to it an amount of such lands not to exceed one million acres, free of cost, upon sufficient proof being furnished by the state that tangible steps have been taken to actually irrigate the tracts in question. Under the provisions of this law the state may proceed to make contracts to cause the said lands to be reclaimed and sold to actual settlers, in tracts of not more than one hundred and sixty acres, and the money derived from such sales in excess of actual cost of reclamation to be held by the state as a trust fund to be applied to the reclamation of other desert lands. Within recent years the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company has through its industrial agent demonstrated that the possibilities of hundreds of thousands of acres of our arid lands just south of the Columbia River would be, under proper conditions, almost beyond belief. The same may be said of other sections of Eastern Oregon.

By many who have given the matter thoughtful consideration it is believed that modern inventive genius will devise some method by which enormous quantities of water form the Columbia will be raised above its banks by ponderous pumps or other contrivance and large tracts of desert lands, now utterly valueless, be made into productive and prosperous homes for thousands of worthy people. Similar undertakings in other parts of Eastern Oregon might be inaugurated with proper encouragement, and I especially request the members from that section of the state to examine this proposition of the general government and ascertain if it is not worth while for the state to avail itself of its liberal provisions.

At the request of the Oregon Historical Society, I went last May to the historic town of Champoeg, and with Hon. F.X. Matthieu, located the spot where the celebrated meeting was held by the early pioneers on the second of May, 1943, at which Joe Meek called for that division which resulted in the first, and for many years, the only governmental organization on the Pacific Coast. Mr. Matthieu is the only survivor of that great meeting, but having lived in the immediate vicinity for sixty years, had no difficult in designating the exact spot where that band of brave and patriotic pioneers, standing in a little glad within fifty paces of the bank of the Willamette River, declared their allegiance to the government of the United States. It was a critical moment and its right decision was the result largely, of the impulsive nature and decisive character of that famous trapper and frontiersman, Jose Meek. The State of Oregon should take immediate steps to permanently mark this spot that it may not be lost to future generations. A stake was driven, cut from an adjoining oak tree that had grown since the meeting in 1943, and it was left to be cared for further by the State of Oregon. I recommend that you make provision for the erection of a plain stone at that site, which will remain permanently. It should not be gaudy or expensive, but in keeping with the characters of our forefathers, serve to unostentatiously mark the birthplace of a great commonwealth.

The prevalence of smallpox in different parts of the state within the past two years caused frequent appeals to the executive office for aid in establishing quarantine measures to prevent the spread and ravages of this dreaded disease. These appeals served to emphasize the fact that Oregon has no quarantine laws, the only resort, in cases of danger, being to the United States quarantine law, which can only be enforced under United States authority. In order to do this the whole matter of quarantine and prevention would have to be turned over to the treasury department of the United States and placed in the hands of the marine military service. This would be a slow method for reaching quick results and would be so indirect as to be inefficient. While there was some danger during the last year of the introduction of the bubonic plague the various state health officers were instructed to be vigilant in the matter of inspecting all incoming vessels, and their efforts were crowned with successful results, but some measure should be enacted that would give the necessary authority to establish quarantine stations when necessary to prevent spread of any epidemic that might arise. There are several distinguished members of the medical profession who occupy seats in your honorable bodies, and I desire to invite their attention especially to a serious consideration of this important question.

On account of the reduced appropriations allowed by the last legislature for the support of some of the state institutions, as compared with former years, and through a desire to meet these reductions as nearly as possible, I have detailed convicts to assist in the work at the Reform school, the Mute school and the Blind school. After reducing the number of employees in some instances and consolidating their duties in others, it was still found impossible to conduct some of the institutions without going beyond the appropriation, and, as a last effort, I detailed two convicts to work regularly for several months at the Reform school, and a large share of the time there has been one at the Mute school and one at the Blind school. But I shall not adopt this course any longer unless specifically directed to do so by the legislature. The State of Oregon is not a mendicant that it must resort to this method of paying the bills. These three institutions are for the care of unfortunate children who are the wards of the state, and I question the moral effect of having convicts around them, especially at the Reform school, where they are necessarily thrown in many ways in direct contact with the boys. Aside from this view of the question I doubt the public policy of encroaching, even in this indirect manner, on the rights of free labor. Of course the convicts should be employed, but there is legitimate work at the penitentiary for all of the convicts at this time and for even more. There is, in my judgment, valid objections to the employment of convicts as attendants around other state institutions, and while I believe in and urge economy in the expenditure of public money, I trust you will provide sufficient funds to support our state schools without the necessity of drawing on the penitentiary convicts to lessen or avoid a deficit. The moral effect of having convicts around the schools for the blind and deaf children of the state is, at least, questionable, and as to the Reform school, certainly to be deprecated.

At the session of 1893 provision was made for building a branch asylum in Eastern Oregon, in accordance with which a tract of land consisting of six hundred and twenty acres was purchased near Union, in Union County. After passing through various stages of litigation the state has secured a clear title to the land, but since the Supreme Court has held that construction of state buildings away from the State Capital would be unconstitutional, the proposition has been abandoned, and, awaiting the action of the legislature as to its final disposition, the State Land Board has temporarily leased the same to a private party for the sum of$750 per annum. To authorize the sale of this property and the placing of the proceeds in the proper fund, or some other disposition of it, will be one of your duties during this session.

It has been urged in some quarters that, since practically all of the state appropriations are expended in Western Oregon, nearly one-half of which is paid by the eastern section of the state, it would be an act of justice and good policy to erect an agricultural college on the tract of land referred to. It is claimed in justification of this proposition that since agricultural colleges are largely supported by the general government, the constitutional objection to the erection of an asylum at Union would not apply to the former. I feel disposed to call your attention to the fact that the development of Eastern Oregon in population and wealth justified its claim for more generous consideration at the hands of the state’s legislators than it has always received. It should be remembered that the section comprises over one-half of our area, that probably two-thirds of our common school fund arises from the sale of lands east of the Cascade Range, that fully two-thirds of the five hundred thousand-acre grant was selected in Eastern Oregon, nearly the whole of the Grand Ronde Valley being covered by this selection. This has principally gone into the common school fund, excepting what was used in the construction of the lock at Oregon City. Nearly ninety per cent of the Agricultural College land grant was selected in Oregon. When we consider that more than one-half of the gold and wheat and sheep and cattle exported from the states is produced in that section we begin to realize that it is a magnificent domain, worthy of equal legislative recognition at all times.

It will be well, therefore, for your to give thoughtful attention to the suggestion that the object of the federal law providing for the establishment of experiment stations at the agricultural colleges in the several states, had in mind the location of them at different points in the same state when thought needful or expedient. Several of the states now have two or more stations, which is necessary to secure practical results. It is sometimes urged that Oregon should be divided into two states, for the reason that its western and eastern sections are so unlike in climatic conditions and general character, but this very fact—this very diversity of character and possibilities—makes a perpetual union the more desirable and probably. It simply increases the variety of its products and adds to its natural wealth. It makes it more nearly self-sustaining. But for this very reason, an experiment made at the station at Corvallis had as well been made in Kansas so far as any fact has been developed that will be of any value in Eastern Oregon. In this respect, the object of the law providing for experiment stations is not being fulfilled so far as Oregon is concerned. This is a federal fund, and it is believed that a part of it could be directed from its present use and applied to a similar purpose in Eastern Oregon.

For the purpose of establishing an experiment station, it would be difficult to find a tract of land better fitted for that purpose than that referred to near Union. It would not require more than one-half of it for the uses indicated. In any event the State Land Board should be authorized to dispose of this body of valuable land in some manner, and if sold, the proceeds turned into some designated fund in the public treasury.

Considerable public interest has developed within the last year in favor of the enactment of a direct primary law, and there seems to be a general demand in that direction. This is the outgrowth of the abuses of the present convention system under which the power to name candidates for office is often centered within the control of a few persons. Several propositions have been made along the line of this proposed reform, and if one can be formulated whose benefits will not be overcome by its inconvenience or inadaptability it should receive your favorable consideration. The principle of the plan is right, and if the people of the rural districts could be induced to take sufficient interest in its to make its practical working a success it would not doubt secure a much more faithful expression of the popular desire in the matter of naming candidates for public positions. A law that will eliminate the convention system altogether will necessarily require the nomination of all candidates for all offices by the direct method. In other words, it would require two elections instead of one—an election of candidates and an election of officers. This system, if neglected by the farming classes and other people living in remote districts, would be of doubtful improvement over the present one. It would have a tendency to increase the power to name candidates by the cities because of the increased opportunities of their people for personal consultation; in fact, it is believed that if the system could be applied to some of our larger cities only it would remedy all the complaint that is justly made in Oregon today. But a direct primary law to include the selection of all candidates must include the entire state. The object to be attained is admirable. One-man power, or anything approaching it, should be excluded from our nominating system. The more nearly the people can be consulted on all propositions the more nearly will good results be obtained. The proposed system, however, involves such a radical revolution from that which the people have been accustomed that a new law not carefully considered would probably soon become very unpopular. I desire to assure you that any measure which promises to be practical, uncomplicated and to curtail the power of those who may indicate a disposition to become what are known as “party bosses,” will meet my heart disapproval.

The management of the Pan-American Exposition to be held at Buffalo, New York, this year has invited Oregon to make an exhibition of its resources at that place and time. I believe this invitation should be accepted and that you should make a reasonable appropriation for that purpose. In the matter of internal development and securing increased population Oregon has fallen behind her sister states during the past decade, and that for no other reason than that we sit still and do not advertise our wares. This is the only explanation of the fact that Washington at this time exceeds us in population more than one hundred thousand. There is at this time no state in the union that has such a variety of undeveloped resources as ours, and the exhibits that could be made at Buffalo would meet the eyes of more wealthy men seeking opportunities for investment of idle capital than has ever before been possible. The farmers of the state are continually suffering in purse from the plain fact that we have fewer manufacturing establishments for our population and possibilities than any other state in the union. At Buffalo will be the opportunity, by means of a display of our resources, to induce men of means to want to see a country that can produce such samples of nature’s bounties, astounding to them but so familiar to us that we pass them by unheeded. I believe a small appropriation carefully guarded in every detail as to its expenditure would be a good investment, and ultimately for our poorer people especially.

One of the public expenditures which is wholly unnecessary but which has the sanction of law is the matter of public printing. No blame whatever attaches to the State Printer, but the amount of printing required by law is far in excess of the public needs. For a number of years the biennial appropriation for printing has been about $60,000. This has always been exhausted and has been followed by some deficiencies beside. The present state officers have used every effort to curtail this matter, and have succeed in returning a surplus of $6,000 after paying $5,000 for the former printing and binding of “The Resources of Oregon,” making a practical saving of $11,000. But if you will change the present law in several particulars a still further saving can be made. At the beginning of this administration there were found several tons of useless reports of various kinds stored in the basement of the Capitol, which were carted out and sold for junk in order to make room for an accumulation of another supply of the same kind of useless merchandise. The law now requires one thousand copies of all kinds of reports printed when two hundred and fifty of each would furnish an ample supply for all purposes. The thousand copies of the report of one of the Eastern Oregon district fairs were sent to the Secretary of State last summer, and having no use for them, were sent to the secretary of the fair interested. The secretary refused to pay the freight bill on the shipment, which, upon being presented to the Secretary of State, was paid, and it is supposed the reports have long since been destroyed. Section 3964, Hill’s Code, requires the printing of two thousand copies of the session laws. After supplying all possible demands for the session laws of 1899, there are now eight hundred copies on hand. Of the session laws from 1880 to 1898 there are now on hand over four thousand copies for which there is no possible use. There are piled up in the basement at this time three thousand two hundred copies of the Senate Journals, and two thousand seven hundred and seventy-five copies of the House Journals prior to 1899. The law requires the printing of eight hundred copies of each report of the Supreme Court. There have been four reports during the last four years, and there are on hand at present an average of $4 each, making the cost of the surplus volumes now on hand fully $28,000. Without going into further details I ask your earnest consideration of the necessity of providing for a reform in this matter. The number of all reports and documents should be limited to not more than two hundred and fifty copies.

In addition to this it may be said that the present cost of all state printing is believed to be far above what it should be, and since the term of the present State Printer, who has made a most excellent officer, will have expired before the printing for the next session of the legislature will become necessary, this is the proper time to revise the fees for future state printing. This is an important matter and should under no circumstances be overlooked, especially since the constitution provides that the rates fixed for stat printing shall neither be increased nor diminished during the term for which a state printer shall have been elected.

The general appropriation bill passed in 1893 contained the following clause: “The superintendent of the penitentiary shall, out of the foregoing appropriation for general expenses of said institution, pay to each convict, on his discharge, at least $5 in money, and shall furnish him with a suit of clothes worth $15, and shall procure transportation for such discharged convict from Salem to the place at which he was convicted, or for an equal distance to any other place in this state selected by such convict.” I believe this is a sound policy and recommend the re-enactment of its general features. If there is any possible combination of circumstances that will incline a man to commit a crime who may have already, through heredity or association, the criminal instinct, but who also may be possessed with a desire to reform, it is the one surrounding a discharged convict when he is turned out without money, friends, influence, or acquaintances, with the usual avenues of employment turned against him and no means to get away from the place of his recent incarceration and disgrace. It is believed that a large proportion of the discharged convicts emerge from the doors of the prison with a determination to not again commit a penal offense, but through a system of neglect in the matter referred to the state virtually surrounds him with an environment that instead of destroying really stimulates whatever inclination to commit crime has not been fully eradicated from his nature.

This is altogether, wrong, and even ignoring the humane aspect of the case it will be cheaper for the state to remove this temptation to violate the law by making some provision similar to the one referred to. My attention has been specially called to this subject by the frequent visits of discharged convicts to the executive office asking for personal aid. Under the present appropriation for that purpose the sum allowed has not been more than $1.50 per man, an amount scarcely sufficient to pay for a night’s lodging and two meals, or, if used for railroad fare, then enough only to take him a few miles from Salem to be left absolutely stranded. If it is thought unnecessary to grant all that is included in the provisions referred to at least some more liberal one than that now in practice should be made. I leave the question for you to determine whether a continuation of the present system is either just, humane or economical. At the same time, while in seeming conflict with this position, it should be said that the number of convicts in the state’s prison is more than one hundred less than it has been in former times.

While the legislature should be very careful in the matter of appropriating the public funds, and should examine every appropriation for that purpose critically, there is nothing gained by carrying the policy of economy so far that it results in actually crippling the state institutions. While actuated at all times by a desire to reduce expenses to the minimum, the present administration has, in some instances, been handicapped by insufficient appropriations to meet actual requirements. No appropriations of any kind were made in 1897, and, for that reason, the special session of 1898 passed an appropriation bill covering the biennial expenses of the state government for the years 1897 and 1898. That legislature found it necessary, for instance, to appropriate the sum of $61,000 to defray the general expenses, including electric lighting, for the Reform school for the preceding two years. But at the regular session of the same legislature and by the same committee on ways and means four months later, the sum of $35,000 only was allowed for the following two years for identically the same purpose, and that, too, for an institution that is, with the state, gradually growing. More than that, the next item in the general appropriation bill, which allowed this sum of $35,000, is an allowance of $2,277 for deficiencies for the same institution that had already been allowed $61,000. If it required nearly $64,0000 to defray the expenses of that institution for the two preceding years, it is difficult to understand by what system of reasoning it was concluded the same work could be done for nearly $30,000 less for the following two years. It is believed this institution has been conducted on an economical basis since its inception, and why it should be crippled is difficult to understand. On account of the nature of those sent there for reformation, it can well be imagined that it require constant attention to the matter of repairs to the buildings to maintain their efficiency and appearance. Some of these improvements could not be longer deferred, and while in this institution economy to the verge of parsimony has been practiced, a deficiency of nearly $14,000 has been incurred, though the total expense is still about $15,000 below the amount expended and allowed for the two years previous.

I wish to repeat that in all this constant attention should be given to economy by all state officers and heads of departments, at all times, in the interests of those who toil to pay the taxes, but deficiencies, with the attendant obligation to pay interest on warrants, for the sake of a brief reputation of economy by those in public position is not economy for those who finally foot the bills.

It is not believed to be possible to conduct the Reform school on any cheaper basis than that which has prevailed during the past two years. A large majority of the boys are necessarily too small to be of any real service on the farm, and since it is a school for children on a plan not unlike other common schools, whose pupils cannot be sent home during the summer vacation (as the blind and deaf children are), its expenses never cease.

This school is productive of incalculable good, in the way of turning unfortunate and homeless and incorrigible boys in the right direction. Industrial teaching along several lines is now and has been for several years engaging the attention of the school, and facilities for it should be extended.

Boys who have nothing to do and do not know how to do anything useful, are the ones most likely to drift into wrongdoing. Boys of this character, taken up and trained in the right way, and taught something useful to do by the time they are ready to be discharged, are far less likely to drift into criminal ways than those who have not been taught how to do some useful work.
Hand training should be a feature, especially of the Reform and Mute schools. In fact, more attention should be given to this idea in the common schools generally. It is cheaper to teach boys trades in the schools first mentioned than to turn them out without employment or knowledge of some practical sort. The tendency in our modern schools is to teach away from manual labor, anyway. The average graduate is inclined to the conclusion that if his schooling does not enable him to live without doing manual labor, he will be regarded as a failure. This idea and tendency can be eradicated only by not encouraging it. After the average young man becomes “highly educated” his next effort is to become a lawyer, or doctor, of, failing in that, it is preferable to get a life job as stenographer or typewriter than to undertake clearing ten acres of land by actually doing it. All of our schools, so far as they tend to foster this idea, are doing a great degree of harm, and it should be remedied by encouraging education toward practical things that will fit our young people for practical affairs.

Viewed merely from the mercenary standpoint of dollars and cents, the Reform school is an economical investment. It is a waste of time to say that parents should look more carefully after their children. The condition remains just the same and the only question confronting the states is whether it will undertake the reformation of these children, or wait until a later period and care for many of them in the penitentiary after untold crimes have been committed. No one will say that it is not necessary that the morals of the children of the commonwealth should be looked after. In such extreme cases as where parents will not perform this filial duty the state cannot afford not to. Most of the states of the union have reform schools for wayward girls, and Oregon needs one as much as it does for boys. Surely no rules of ethics can be cited in justification of the process of reforming boys and neglecting the girls of the state who, in equal numbers, need the fostering care of a protecting commonwealth. This system of flagrant partiality and statutory neglect has been the policy of the state ever since the erection of the Reform school , and it is altogether probably that one-half the effort bestowed upon the boys is wasted by the state’s indifference toward the equally deserving girls, who through parental disregard of duty, or other unfortunate circumstances, are allowed to drift along the paths of immorality. I trust you will see your duty in the direction of acting upon this important matter in some manner that will produce tangible results.

Under the provisions of the law passed by the last legislature the board of trustees for the management of the Soldiers’ Home was abolished and the control of that institution placed under the direct charge of the Governor. This change has proven very beneficial, as there has been no complain from any quarter of any kind. From a recent consultation with the members themselves, I was assured that they receive uniformly kind treatment, and all their wants are supplied. As compared with neatly all other homes in the United States, our own is at a great disadvantage. There is a national law which allows $100 annually to each state home for every member who is drawing a pension from the national government. In all the eastern homes practically every member is a pensioner, but here fully thirty per cent of them are Indian war veterans, whose care and maintenance are patriotically provided for by our laws, but who, nevertheless, diminish the financial resources of the home to that extent. Ever since its erection the state has made an annual appropriation of $12,000 for its support, until at the last session it was, very unwisely I think, reduced to $10,000. Thus crippled in its means of support, all needed repairs which, in public institutions, should be met as they appear and not allowed to accumulate, have been forced to remain unattended to. This is not a sound policy nor real economy. It would not be on the part of a business man, and since the public institutions belong to the whole people, it is not, in the case of the state.

The Home owns forty acres of land on the Umpqua River, thirty of which are in use, and few tracts in the state, if any, are in better state of cultivation. An unusually large amount of produce was raised this year, the labor being mostly furnished by the soldiers themselves. It is a positive discredit to the state, however, that there is but one horse, and that of uncertain age, belonging to the Home, the team work being largely done with horses borrowed from kindly disposed neighbors. The mere reference to this condition should insure its reformation. If the former appropriation cannot be increased, it should at least be reinstated. For reasons easily understood the expense of maintaining a soldiers’ Home cannot at this time be supposed to be decreasing, for, as the members grow older, a greater percentage of them require hospital treatment. The hospital facilities there at this time are crowded, and the central idea of a state home implies that the more helpless the members become the more binding is the duty of the state to care for them.

There are at this time in many parts of the state indigent soldiers who are as much entitled to the care of the Home as those who have been there for years, and when they appeal to the executive office for admission the only response to be made is that there is no further room either in the home or the hospital. I make this appeal to the humanitarian side of your natures, and for detailed information as to the workings of the home and its necessities, I call your special attention to the report of the commandant.

Without going further into details of the management of the different state institutions I will refer you to the very complete reports of their several superintendents. It is confidently believed that they are all well officered and that the object for which each was established is being realized in a manner that will fully meet the public expectation. The last legislature made appropriations for the construction of additions to the asylum and penitentiary, and a new cottage at the asylum farm. These requirements have been met, and although the rapid increase in the cost of all kind of materials made it impossible to complete them all in the manner intended, the expenditures have been kept practically within the appropriation. I earnestly urge that the committees appointed to examine the various institutions make their investigations complete, especially for the reason that the general public has the right to be fully informed as to the disposition of the public funds and the results derived.

The last legislature enacted a law providing for the number of committee clerks to be employed and for the manner of their selections. The principal features of this law have been demanded by the people for many years. You are to be congratulated upon finding such a law on the statute books, as it with afford you a helpful fortification in the matter of defending ante-election promises for possible and necessary retrenchment.

As a testimonial of the appreciation which the people of Oregon feel for the gallant service of the Second Oregon Regiment of Volunteers in the Philippine War I ordered a sufficient number appropriate bronze medals struck to present one to each member of that regiment. A similar step was taken by nearly every other state that had a regiment in that war, and, so far as I know, by every one. This regiment of model young men, volunteering as they did, from among the best families of the state, conducted themselves while in active service and at all other times when under fire or when making forced marches in manner that reflected credit, not only upon themselves, but upon the state that sent them forth to support and defend the flag of their country. One hundred and fourteen of them were college graduates, one hundred and fifty-six were students, fifteen were lawyers, one hundred and forty-one were clerks, one hundred and twenty-three were farmers, and the others were drawn from different walks of life, the creditable fact being that nearly every man left a good position in order to respond to the call of his country.

The reputation this regiment earned by its superb and never-failing soldierly qualities, is best recorded in the famous order of General Wharton, “Orderly, overtake those Oregon greyhounds on the road to Polo and order them to Melinto. Go mounted, or you will never catch them.”

Under the most trying circumstances, they remained in the service after the terms of their enlistment had technically expired, and, after reaching Manila on their way home, were detailed on another two days’ march after the skulking and treacherous Filipinos. By their soldierly bearing at all time they not only honored themselves, but added new luster to the fame of Oregon in every civilized nation on earth. They are entitled to the grateful remembrance of every patriotic citizen of the state.

Before ordering medals I corresponded with several firms in the east and in California, and after securing their most favorable prices, found a firm in Portland that offered to do the work at a cheaper rate than any of the competitors.

By a personal application to Secretary Root of the war department a bronze cannon, which had been captured from the Spanish at Manila by our forces, was shipped to Portland that offered to do the work at a cheaper rate than any of the competitors.

By a personal application to Secretary Root of the war department a bronze cannon, which had been captured from the Spanish at Manila by our forces, was shipped to Portland for the express purpose of furnishing the materials for the medals. Their design is suggestive of state as well as national patriotism and pride, their workmanship is of the best character, and I am sure the expense of securing them, which has been carefully guarded, will be gladly borne by the people of Oregon.

Your attention is called to the necessity of making provision for the completion of the state sewer leading from the state buildings to the Willamette River. A few years ago, by direction of the legislature, a permanent and ample sewer was constructed from the river to a point opposite the Capitol building on Court street, but was there abandoned by reason of the exhaustion of the funds provided. It was the intention to build this sewer to the asylum and penitentiary, and it seems imperative that its completion should not be longer delayed. The immense amount of sewerage coming from the asylum and penitentiary is discharged into the city sewers, which already have all they can carry. There is now nearly an acre of roof surface on the asylum building alone, and when a hard rainstorm occurs, which sometimes happens, the result is the inundation of many private and public basements in the city. During the present winter the furnaces in the basement of the City Hall were submerged and the fires extinguished. This has happened also in many private residences. Not only so, but it impairs the health of the city and the inmates of the state institutions concerned. The state has no right on should have no desire to thus impose on the rights of its citizens, and I earnestly recommend that you make provision for the remedy suggested.

Ever since the completion of Representative Hall its acoustics have been so very unsatisfactory that it has been almost impossible to transact business in it with any degree of certainty as to what was being done. Various experiments had been tried without apparent improvement, when the last legislature directed the Board of Building Commissioners, consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State and the State Treasurer, to appropriate the sum of $11,634 for the purpose of putting in a ceiling and diminishing the height of the hall by something like one-half. This sum was at first thought to be wholly inadequate for the purpose named, but after advertising for bids a firm was found willing to undertake the work, and it has been completed as you now see it practically within the appropriation. The workmanship and material have been first class, and it is believed the result attained will fully justify the expenditure.

In April, 1893, the state made a contract with the Salem Light and Power Company, in Salem, by the terms of which that company agreed to furnish certain state buildings with electric lights for the term of ten years. It is believed that the price paid for these lights is quite excessive and that upon the expiration of the contract some steps should be taken to provide lights on more reasonable terms.

Unless better conditions can be arranged with the company now providing the lights, or with some other company, it will be necessary for the state to install a plant of its own. I suggest that at this session you authorize the Board of Capitol Building Commissioners to consult with different lighting companies as to the best terms upon which another contract can be made and with experts as to the probably cost of installing a state plant, and to report the result of its findings to the next session of the legislature.

The present contract will expire on the first of April, 1903, and at that time the state should be ready to act promptly in the matter.

Under the authority of an act approved February 25, 1895, the Board of Managers of the Oregon Stove Foundry, composed of the Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer, entered into a contract with the Northwestern Stove Foundry on July 29, 1895, by the terms of which that corporation agreed to pay the State of Oregon for the labor of one hundred convicts at the rate of thirty-five cents per day and a rental for the use of the foundry property at the rate of $2,000 a year, to be paid quarterly. From the beginning the company defaulted in its payments, save the first amount due for the convict labor and rental on October 8 of the same year. This was largely because of the unusually depressed condition of business generally, and no further payment of any kind was made again until the fifteenth of January, 1898, when the sum of $2,000 was remitted. This very unsatisfactory condition of affairs continued until the special session of the legislature met in September, 1898, when the entire matter was turned over to that body for investigation and settlement. The committee appointed for that purpose reported that the state’s unpaid claim at the time amounted to the sum of $63,261.55, and recommend as a basis of settlement, considering the very unfavorable conditions under which the company has been doing business, the acceptance of $32,500 in full payment of all its claims.

This was the condition of affairs when the present Board of Managers came into office, and a contract was made with the Northwestern Stove Foundry, by the terms of which it agreed to pay the sum of $10,000 at once, $10,000 on the first of January, 1900, and $12,500 on the first of January, 1901, with interest at the rate of six per cent. That company also agreed to pay $2,000 per annum for the use of the foundry plant, payable quarterly, and the further sum of thirty-five cents a day of ten hours, or at that rate per hour, for the labor of one hundred convicts, the latter to be paid monthly.

I rejoice at being able to report that all these payments have been met promptly and exactly according to contract, so that, instead of a large deficit to compromise, there is now in the treasury the sum of $18,677 earned by convict labor during the last twenty-three months, or an average of over $853 per month; $3,916 have been paid for rent, a reduction of $84 having been made to correspond with the time the foundry was closed, by the direction of the board, to take account of stock in order to ascertain the amount of the state’s security, and the further sum of $32,500 as back pay on the former contract. Against this stands the sum of $2,600 paid out for repairs and other expenses, leaving a balance in the treasury to the credit of the penitentiary foundry fund in its various forms of $42,800. The state has at this time no claims whatever against the Northwestern Stove Foundry, it having met all its obligations in full.

While I dislike very much to ask for increased appropriations in any case, it is apparent that if the state is going to look after the protection of its game, and to the prevention of the sale and manufacture of adulterated foods, more funds must be provided for the enforcement of the laws governing those questions. They are both of the utmost importance and should not be neglected through refusal of sufficient state aid to insure the purpose named. An increase in the salaries of the chief officers is not asked, but the small sums appropriated to discover and punish offenders is entirely inadequate to secure the purpose intended. This proposition does not require argument to present its just claim, and it is hoped you will grant the necessary assistance to enable those two very efficient officers to realize the object of the laws governing their departments. It is not likely that any other state in the union provides so small an amount of funds for the protection of its game and for the prevention of the sales of adulterated foods.

Since there was a general attack on boards and commissions of all kinds two years ago, I hesitate to say anything in favor of the re-establishment of a railroad commission, and will, not, further to remind you that there is not now, and has not been for two years, any law of any kind in this state regulating the freight rates on railroads. It is doubtful if this can be said of any other state in the union.

Under such circumstances it is a matter of congratulation that the different roads have been, as a rule, governed by a fair consideration of the public interest, but there are instances of the grave disregard of the rights of shippers that should not be allowed to continue. Many times during the past two years I have been asked through correspondence from different parts of the state what could be done to remedy certain acts of injustice, the details of which were furnished. There is scarcely a state in the union which has not a commission of some kind to regulate railroad fares and freights, and so settled has this policy become in most of them that there is no more thought of abolishing the railroad commission than there is of dispensing with the services of a state attorney-general or of any other necessary adjunct to the state government. The question is never even discussed. You are the representatives of the people, and I deem my duty performed when I call your attention to the fact that it is an anomaly for the people of a state to absolutely surrender all control of the railroads rather than to support a commission whose duty is to regulate inequalities and prevent extortion. The power to regulate them resides in the state and should be unquestionably exercised. It is for you to decide whether the present condition can be continued with safety to the public welfare.

For many years the salmon industry has been one of the leading interests of the state, but all efforts to stay the annual diminution of the supply has so far proven ineffectual. When observance is given to the varied kinds of processes used for catching salmon from the time they enter the mouth of the Columbia, including nets, traps, seines and wheels, it is marvelous that any ever escape to reach the hatcheries and spawning grounds. And yet nothing should be plainer that that the industry will be surely annihilated, and that shortly, unless something is done to allow the salmon to reach the upper rivers unmolested during an open season long enough for increasing numbers of them to find their spawning grounds and the hatcheries. This is not a matter which will call for more money, for there is a surplus in the treasury at this time which the Fish Commission could not use in any way. Hatcheries are useless unless salmon are allowed to reach them. Under the new law the commission erected a hatchery on the Upper Clackamas River in the summer of 1899, with a hatching capacity of ten millions, but, although practically every salmon reaching that point has been caught, the output has not in either year reached three million fry. Other hatcheries have been erected at small cost wherever there was any prospect for a run of salmon, but none of them has produced the output that was expected. We have more hatcheries now than fish. The restoration and perpetuation of this great industry, which gives employment to several thousand deserving workingmen, and which should bring a vast amount of money into the state annually, depends altogether on the kind of legislation enacted governing the open seasons for salmon to ascend the rivers of the state when on their way to the spawning grounds. This one suggestion is the key to the situation and presents the principal difficulty in the way of building up a prosperous business not only for the fishermen, but for many others depending upon that industry. You are requested to give this matter your thoughtful attention, as stringent legislation, based on intelligent comprehension of what is most needed to reach the desired end, is urgently demanded. The Fish Commissioner has been a most industrious officer, is thoroughly acquainted with the habits of fish and has given the necessities of the industry in Oregon an extended consideration in his biennial report, which you are invited to carefully examine.

It is believed that the utmost economy has been practiced in every department, and while some deficiencies are reported, they have occurred, as elsewhere indicated, because of decreased appropriations as compared with former years and by the largely increased cost of meats and other provisions, which, of course, was unavoidable. Expenses have been reduced wherever possible, the result of which is that while the amount raised for the ordinary expenses of the state government on the assessment of 1898 was $761,000, it was $757,000 in 1899, and the amount to be raise on the assessments just returned for 1900 will be $671,000, showing a reduction of $80,000 from 1898 and of $90,000 from last year. The tax levy this year is the same as two years ago, and smaller than one years ago by three-fifth of a mill, the expenses having been decreased to correspond with diminished valuations. As long ago as 1892 the state levy was seven mills on a valuation of $160,000,000, or $42,000,000 more than this year. In 1889 the levy was six mills. It is not to be supposed that a steady decline in the ordinary expenses of a state that is constantly growing can be maintained, but the effort made in that direction has been very satisfactory and will be continued wherever possible. On the supposition that Oregon equals Washington in wealth, if we had the same returned valuation on our assessment rolls as that state, our state levy based on our present expenses would be but three mills.

There is now a balance in the general fund in the state treasury of $152,322, and $25,948 due from the various counties of the state on deferred taxes, making a total of $178,000. This is a sufficient amount to pay all outstanding warrants against the state and all other liabilities, exclusive of the scalp bounty and swamp land warrants, which have no connection with the general expenses of the state government. The school fund amounts in round numbers to $3,500,000, it all being represented in notes and certificates in different forms, excepting $596,000 now in the treasury. This is not reported as a surplus in the treasury, for it is not an asset of the state, and could not be used for any kind of liability in any way connected with the expenses of the state government. Oregon is out of debt and should remain so.

You are welcomed to the State Capital, gentlemen, clothed with the discriminating duty of making and unmaking laws for a free people. This is a sacred trust demanding your best thought and your most carefully considered efforts. In all countries, under all conditions and at all times there is a large class of people who are compelled by the stress of circumstances to labor incessantly to provide them with the necessaries of life. These are known as the common people, and it is upon them that the burden of government largely falls, and it is upon their prosperity that the prosperity eventually of all other classes depends. You should bear them in mind while answering to every roll call. After the election of a senator has been accomplished there will be no questions of a political nature to consider. A large majority of you belong to one political party, but it is believed that on all other questions you can work in harmony with the minority who share with you an equal concern for the welfare of our commonwealth. The future is freighted with great opportunities for the Pacific Coast, and, for many reasons, the indications point to our own state as being destined to ultimately take the lead in matters of commercial supremacy. The well defined promises of a great oriental trade are beckoning us onward from the further shores of the great Pacific, and when the competition for traffic between the different overland lines reaches that point, which it surely will; when the difference between moving railway trains over high mountains and moving them on a water-level grade to the sea will mark the difference between loss and profit, then the Columbia River route will be the chosen one for the vast growing business between the two hemispheres. There can be no doubt about this whatever, and in that coming day, not very far in the future, Portland and Astoria, with a deep channel river between them, will be among the leading cities of the coast, prosperous, and working hand in hand for the advancement of the general public interest.

Let those of us who are the trusted servants of the people for the time being, address our earnest efforts to the upbuilding of our state’s best interests, as, turning from the triumphs and failures of the past, we face the hopeful future, and, placing our trust in the Great Architect of the Universe, cross the promising threshold of the twentieth century.

State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

Phone: 503-373-0701 • Fax: 503-378-4118 • reference.archives@state.or.us