Governor William P. Lord's Administration

Inaugural Address, 1895

Source: Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon, Messages and Documents, 1895, Vol. 1, Page 1.

Gentleman of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Trusting for guidance and wisdom from Him who doeth all things well, I appear before you, in assuming the duties of the office of governor of this State, to which I have been chosen by the suffrages of the people, with a profound sense of my obligation sand responsibilities, to make such suggestions and recommendations in reference to the affairs of the State as seem to be appropriate and expedient. The duty devolved upon the governor by the constitution, to communicate to the legislature the condition of the State and to recommend such measures to it as he may deem expedient, would seem more properly to belong to the retiring governor, whose official experience during his term enables him to acquire a special knowledge of the various institutions of the state and the measures deemed essential to promote its progress and prosperity, which particularly qualify him for the performance of such duty than to the incoming governor, who, just called from another occupation which has absorbed his time and attention, could hardly be expected to possess the kind of knowledge which would qualify him to enter into a consideration in detail of the various matters of state, or to recommend measures of special significance for the development of its interests and the wants of its people. But, be that as it may, I trust it may not be inappropriate for me to avail myself of this occasion to extend to the retiring governor-who brought probity and ability to his office-our thanks for many acts of public merit and our best wishes for his personal happiness and prosperity; and, also, on my own behalf, to express to the people of the State, through you-their chosen representatives- my grateful appreciation of the distinguished honor conferred upon me, and my earnest hope to perform the duties devolving upon me with fidelity to their interests and with credit to the State, to the end that they may have no cause to regret the generous confidence reposed in me.

I greet you, gentlemen of the legislature, at the beginning of the new year, although the skies are not bright with promise, with an abiding faith in the future of Oregon. Our State is endowed with great resources and natural advantages, the development of which under industrial influences will insure its growth and enrichment. Its soil is fertile, and its fields yield generous harvests; its ranges are excellent feeding grounds for the raising of stock; its mines, though only partially developed and utilized, are rich in mineral wealth; its forests are studded with an almost inexhaustible supply of timber; its waterways are extensive, and afford unequaled advantages for commerce; its harbors are safe and commodious; its water powers are unlimited in capacity and extent, offering unrivaled facilities for manufacturing enterprises; its climate is healthful, and its plains and mountain ranges combine beauty and grandeur of scenery. Here within our own borders are all the material elements and advantages that attract men of enterprise and capital to make investments in commercial and business activities and to establish manufacturing and mechanical industries, which in the progress of time will give employment to many laboring people, build up towns and cities, increase our wealth and population, and lay deep and strong the foundations of our general prosperity. Already considerable capital has been invested in our State, devoted to the enlargement of some of our existing institutions, and to the creation of new enterprises and business ventures. Many railroad lines have been constructed within our territory that have afforded an outlet for our products and opened up additional avenues for trade and commerce. In the meantime, the growth of our cities and towns has been steady and rapid, the value of property has greatly increased, and improvements of a public and private character have marked our advancement. All around us there are tangible evidences of the industrial activity of our people and the growth and development of our State, and with national legislation not unfavorable to us, the future of Oregon is full of promise of a rich inheritance to its inhabitants.

But, unfortunately, some national legislation at first threatened, and some since enacted, has had the effect to cripple the industries of the country, cause depression in the value of property and its products, disturb business relations, stagnate trade and commerce, create distrust and uncertainty in our monetary affairs and a deficit in the national treasury, abridge the demand for labor and render its employment unremunerative, by reason whereof, the country is plunged into a profound financial and commercial depression, which grievously burdens our people and serves to retard the general progress and development of the State. This is a condition of things from which the country can expect no permanent relief until wiser counsels shall prevail in the management of our national affairs and induce legislation calculated to protect the industrial interests of our people, and, at the same time, by its offer of reciprocal advantages, retain and foster trade with foreign nations.

Under these circumstances, when the opportunities for business and labor are contracted and scarce; when the farmer, though his harvest be abundant, finds no profit in his crop; when hard times are upon us, rendering it especially difficult for the laboring masses to make comfortable provision for their families; when all classes engaged in trade or business are husbanding their resources and practicing a rigorous economy to avoid loss and preserve their commercial standing, it behooves you, upon whom rests the authority to levy taxes and direct the expenditures of the public moneys, to make no appropriation of them except it be for a public purpose and its necessity be clearly shown, and to withhold all appropriations which will bear delay, or can be postponed, in order that the burdens of the people may not be unnecessarily increased and their property subjected to a tax lien to defray needless public expenditures. It is not only desirable that economy should characterize all your appropriations, but, at the present time it is absolutely indispensable to the public welfare. No good citizen will find fault with a public expenditure, which is essential to the public service, but all will feel aggrieved, and have a right to complain, when the expenditure authorized is unnecessary or extravagant. The people have a right to require that public business should be conducted on the same principles of economy that characterize prudent men in the management of their private affairs. The reason as well as the necessity for the practice of economy is the same in one case as in the other. Extravagance, whether public or private, is a demoralizing influence, which impoverishes States and bankrupts individuals. No officer, whatever may be his position, has the right to be generous at the public expense. Any disbursement or appropriation of the revenues, the necessity for which is not shown to be essential for the public good, is a flagrant injustice. Retrenchment is the mandate of the people, and the chief plank in the platform upon which you were elected. The day is come, and the hour is at hand, when your promise to reduce public expenses, wherever it can be effected without detriment to the public good, must be fulfilled. Your word is pledged for it, and good faith requires that it should be kept.

Abuses, if any have grown up, must be unmasked and extirpated root and branch. No department of State, nor any of its institutions, is too sacred for you to invade with the view of ascertaining its condition, its needs, its practices, whether good or bad. How are you to know where to cut off unnecessary expense, or to withhold a needless appropriation or to reduce to a minimum a needed one, or to destroy a hidden emolument, or to abolish a useless office, or whether abuses exist, without making yourselves acquainted with the true condition of the State and its institutions? It is true that much of the knowledge of public affairs with which you will be charged or presumed to be aware must come through committees to whom is confided the business of investigating and reporting, often with such recommendations as they deem proper, upon the condition and needs of the various institutions of the State. This involves the assumption that the members of the committee will be selected with reference to their fitness and ability to perform the work to which they are assigned, and that such work, whatever it may be, will be thoroughly and not perfunctorily performed. I trust that this assumption may hold good in fact, for I sincerely hope that no perfunctory report will come from any committee of this legislature. There will, also, be submitted for your information the reports of the different officers having charge of the public departments and institutions of the State. I bespeak for them a fair and candid hearing, believing that these officers are animated by the best motives for the public good. I earnestly hope that you will carefully examine their reports with a view of giving deliberate consideration to the suggestions contained therein, keeping in mind, at the same time, the interests and the needs of the people.

I make these suggestions, gentlemen, to impress you with the necessity of using all the means of information in your possession to qualify yourselves for the intelligent performances of your duty and to enable you to provide such legislation as will secure needed reforms, reduce the public expenditures, and put at a minimum all needed appropriations of the public revenue. It is in your power to accomplish these objects. The duty and responsibility of legislation rests immediately upon you. To you is committed the sole authority of making laws for the protection of the life, liberty, and property of the citizen, for the levy and collection of taxes and directing the expenditures of the public revenue for the general welfare, the education of our youth, and the care of the unfortunate, and for the support of our institutions of learning, of charity, and of reform and punishment. To a great extent, the honor and welfare of the State and the prosperity and happiness of the people depend on your action. You cannot escape accountability for the manner in which you discharge your high trust. You are here by the will of the people and owe them a conscientious performance of duty according to your best ability. They will scrutinize and review and pass upon your official acts. Do not disappoint their expectations of relief from unnecessary taxation. Make a resolute effort to reduce the burden of taxation to the lowest possible limit consistent with a wise and economical administration of the public business.

Assuming, then, that your efforts will be directed to the accomplishment of this end, it is equally important and necessary, after the amount of money to be raised by taxation for the support of the State, economically administered, as ascertained, that our law regulating the levy and collection of taxes should distribute its burdens ratably so as to insure uniformity of contribution. There is wide complaint against the inequality and insufficiency of our tax laws. If these defects exist, they should be speedily remedied, for equality is the essence of the right to take the citizen’s property for the support of government. Our constitution makes it the duty of the legislature to “provide by law for uniform and equal rate of assessment and taxation.” To secure uniformity and equality it is absolutely essential that taxation be based on some rule of apportionment that operates impartially and rests on fixed principles of justice. No doubt it is impossible to obtain absolute equality, but it is indispensable that some rule be adopted that approximates to that end. Without it, tax laws are partial and inequitable producing inequality and flagrant injustice. It is therefore of the utmost importance, so far as human laws can devise, to equalize the burdens of taxation. This is the leading principle that should be kept steadily in view when tax laws are the subject of legislative consideration. One of the causes of inequality is the insufficiency of the law to secure the assessment for taxation of all classes of property. Where one class of property is taxed and another to any large extent is allowed to escape, the burdens of government are not equally shared. The fundamental idea is that all property, movable and immovable, visible and invisible, should be assessed, to the end that they may bear their fair and just proportions of the tax necessary to be raised for the support of the government. Our constitution contemplates that both classes of property, real and personal, shall be assessed equally and according to their just valuation. It is thought that real estate-the lands and homes of our people-contributes more than its just proportion of the taxes. The reason assigned is that some classes of personal property escape taxation through the insufficiency of our tax laws. It is believed that if our laws were competent to exact a truthful assessment of the value of personal property it would largely increase the amount of our taxable property, and render less burdensome the ownership of houses and lands. A law, which so operates, is partial and inequitable. The farms and homes of our people should not bear more than their just proportion of the public burdens.

We must all deplore a condition of things which permits a citizen paying a tax upon his home or farm to point to some neighbor, owning vastly more in personal goods and capital, who pays a much less amount of tax. It is idle to urge the difficulty of assessing some classes of property without making your law inquisitive. In the nature of things, all laws for the raising of revenue are more or less inquisitorial, but not necessarily to the extent of violating the principle of good neighborhood. Nor will laws devised to exact a truthful statement of a citizen’s taxable property be so considered by those who recognize the duty they owe the government for its protection to their persons and property to bear their fair and just proportion of the public burdens; and as to those who, refusing to recognize such duty, shirk their portion of such burdens, and create the necessity for such laws, they constitute a class who have no claims upon your sympathy or consideration. The aim of the law should be to tax all property liable to taxation, of whatever nature and description, and in taxing it to observe the principle of uniformity in the valuation of the different classes of property. You should also carefully consider the laws relating to the taxation of all corporations doing business in this State, and ascertain whether they are bearing their fair and equal proportion of the public charges. The State affords them the benefit and protection of its laws, and the reciprocal duty should be devolved upon them of contributing their share to its support. Upon the same principle, residents of other States loaning money in this State should be required to pay taxes on the amount employed. It is not possible for me at this time to enter into consideration in detail of the wants of the people in this regard. I can only suggest some of the general principles, which should control you in the consideration of the subject of taxation. The demand for a revision of our tax laws is urgent and widespread. You are here by the will of the people who have confided to you the sovereign power to tax-to take the citizen’s property for governmental purposes. It is important that you should wisely exercise this power, aiming to avoid all inequalities, and to place the burden of taxation so that it will bear, as nearly as possible, equally upon all.

Our penitentiary has been a serious charge upon the State. The law inflicts punishment upon the criminal to protect society and effect his reformation, and to deter others from the commission of crime. The punishment consists in confining him in the State penitentiary for a period of time proportionate to the enormity of his offense. When he has served his punishment, the public good requires that he shall return to society a better or reformed man. But the reformation of the criminal cannot be effected by his confinement alone. There must be, in addition, the influence of moral forces upon his character and regular employment upon his habits, to work his reformation. As a mean to this end, systematic employment is regarded as one of the most humane as well as valued means of reform used in penal institutions. It is essential to the health of the convict, and is due the State as a recompense for his support. Any system of regular employment, therefore, which the State chooses to initiate that would tend to lighten the burden of his support, and make the prison in a measure self-sustaining, is a decided gain for the people, and likely to improve the health and benefit the habits of the convict. But experience has shown that it is extremely difficult to select an industry, which will afford regular employment without bringing convict labor in competition with free labor. We know, as a matter of fact, that wherever the employment of convict labor has been brought in competition with free labor it has produced much dissatisfaction. It was in a measure the desire to avoid this result that induced the last legislature to make an appropriation for the erection and operation of a jute mill with convict labor. It was claimed that by this means the State could work its convict labor with profit in manufacturing articles at a low price, and largely in use by our farming class, and at the same time avoid competition with free labor.

In the neighboring States of California and Washington jute mills have been erected and operated for the past few years, but whether profitably or not I am not informed. But, since the appropriation has not been used for a jute mill, as the law contemplated, for reasons which will doubtless appear satisfactory to you, it is highly important, in view of the fact that jute goods are now on the free list by recent tariff legislation, to ascertain and determine whether the State will realize any profit or advantage by building and operating a jute mill with convict labor. It certainly is true that the State does not want to engage in any doubtful experiments; and, unless you think, after careful consideration, that the conditions are favorable to the operating of a jute-mill industry with convict labor, the proposed enterprise had better be abandoned and the money appropriated for this object be devoted to some other needful public purpose. It is never wise for a State to buy an enterprise which prudent men are anxious to get rid of. There is an impression among some of our people that the purchase of the foundry plant and its operation with convict labor has not been productive of profit or advantage to the State. The idea briefly is that “an elephant” was unloaded upon the State. I trust there is no foundation for such impression, but that facts will disclose that the foundry has been successfully and profitably operated, furnishing regular employment for the convicts, and making the penitentiary in a great measure a self-sustaining institution. It is your duty to ascertain what is the true state of the case in respect to these matters so that you will be able to make such provision for, or disposition of these industries, proposed and contemplated, as may be of the highest advantage to the State and the best interests of the people. In this connection, I would suggest that you consider whether such a change in the present statutes is desirable as would enable the State to transport her own convicts from the jails to the penitentiary through her own agency connected with the penitentiary management. Under existing laws, the sheriffs deliver the convicts to the penitentiary authorities, and the cost for each convict brought to the prison is thought to be largely in excess of what it would cost for the warden to send a guard for such convicts. This method of conveying convicts to the penitentiary, and others based on similar suggestions, have been adopted in several States and resulted in benefit and advantage to the taxpayer.

The duty of providing for the insane is a work of charity and benevolence, which I commend to your generous consideration. The charity, which takes care of this unfortunate class is a noble work and finds its source in the best impulses of our nature. It is a work, which demands the highest intelligence and keenest sympathy to manage with efficiency and humanity. Whatever is necessary for their relief and comfort ought to be done promptly. The dictates of humanity and the honor of the State alike demand that none of these unfortunate ones should be uncared for. We have one institution at the capital, and another soon to be erected in Eastern Oregon, devoted to this noble work, which bespeak the generosity of our people and indicate that no sordid influences can affect them when places for the comfortable care of these unfortunates are needed. A generosity, which taxes itself to accomplish such objects, ought not to be abused. It is believed, owing to the laxity of our laws, that many persons are sent to the asylum, and many remain there as its inmates, who are not proper subjects for its charity, and that, if the defects of our laws in these particulars were remedied, it would diminish the number of insane, so accounted, fully one-fifth, and greatly reduce the expenses of the institutions. Evils of this character are abuses of charity and ought to be promptly remedied. In this connection, I would also suggest that I think it would be to the interest of the State that the asylum, through her own agency, should be intrusted, wherever it can be done, with the transportation of insane persons. Besides the difference in expense, there is the further reason that a guard sent by the asylum would be much more expert in handling this unfortunate class, and therefore would often know how to spare them unnecessary physical pain and mental distress. I earnestly recommend these matters to your consideration.

The protection of society demands that sufficient provision should be made for the suppression of mobs, riots, and other disorders, which are beyond the power of the civil authorities to control. Experience has demonstrated that when such uprisings or internal disorders occur, endangering the life and property of citizens, the prompt use of organized military force is the most effective way to suppress them and restore order. In fact, there is no better way to secure obedience and respect for the laws than always to possess the power to enforce them. For these reasons, it is important to have sufficient military organization, well armed and equipped, and under proper discipline, to assist the civil authorities in the enforcement of the laws in case any crisis or emergency should arise which is beyond their power to control. But the military organization should not be so extensive as to require large expenditure of the public money. There is no actual necessity for a large organization. Our people are law-abiding and respect the individual rights of others. They are not of the sort who are prone to riotous conduct or disposed to do violence to the person and property of others. I do not think, therefore, that any large military organization ought to be kept up, or so large as is now maintained; it would be sufficient to have a military organization of several companies, which, properly distributed over the State, would answer every exigency. It gives me pleasure to say that, so far as my observation has extended, our companies are composed of brave and patriotic young men who are engaged in peaceful pursuits in civil life, and who are loyal to our State and its laws, our country and its flag.

The general diffusion of knowledge furnishes the best guarantee for the strength and stability of the State. Popular education is closely allied to popular liberty. No State can afford to neglect the educational interests of its children. It should give them all an opportunity, at the public expense to enjoy such educational facilities and advantages as will enable them to become fairly intelligent citizens. But it is evident that those who are to teach children should possess the special training that qualifies them for the work. To obtain expert teachers, it is necessary to have schools for their education. With this end in view, our normal schools were established. I take it that they are fulfilling the purposes for which they were designed, and are in good condition and constantly increasing in efficiency. So, too, it is my opinion that the State university and the agricultural college are performing efficiently and acceptably their share in the educational system of the State. Under the able management of their presidents, aided by their corps of accomplished professors, these institutions, in the line of their educational work, ought to become valuable aids in the development of the State, and the advancement of knowledge and intelligence. The schools for the blind and the deaf and dumb are performing an important work, and are deserving of your fostering care. But, in respect to these educational institutions of whatever description, I feel bound to say that, in view of the large amount of money which the State has invested in their grounds and buildings, and the large amount which is required for their support, it is due the taxpayer that they be managed with strict economy, and their expenses be reduced to the lowest possible limit, not incompatible with their efficiency and usefulness. Upon this basis, I recommend whatever appropriations may be found necessary for their support. This recommendation, of course, includes the idea that every institution should show satisfactorily to you what are its needs for efficient work, and excludes the idea that any institution should have a fixed sum provided by law, as in that case there is always a tendency to consume the appropriation, whether the whole is needed or not, rather than allow any part of it to return to the treasury by operation of law. Every law of this character, if there be any such, ought to be promptly repealed, leaving the appropriation for all institutions to be based on an estimate satisfactorily shown to be needful for its wants and efficiency. As to the reform school, I have little data upon which to found an opinion. The buildings and outbuildings are new, and sufficient for present purposes. No additional cost of this kind need be incurred. It would seem that this institution, with the labor force at its disposal among its inmates, and the large acreage attached to it, under careful and economical management ought to be made nearly self-sustaining. Certainly the sum needed for its support for the ensuing two years ought not to be large.

There is no subject of equal importance upon which the public mind is more unanimous than the advantage to be derived from good roads. The subject of economical road-making has been much studied, largely discussed by the press and in road conventions. Every one understands that the State cannot be built up and its lands made valuable, without good roads are constructed. But how to do it without involving too great an expense is the difficult problem. Various systems have been devised with varying degrees of merit, but they all include a measure of expense that makes it difficult for the younger States, like our own, to construct them in a satisfactory manner without entailing too heavy taxation upon property owners. This consideration, though, ought not to discourage us from ascertaining the condition of our roads and the best methods of constructing and improving them. Our State is in great need of good roads. Where the cost of them is reasonable there can be no better investment. Good roads facilitate intercourse and develop trade, promote health, and add greatly to the enjoyment of life, enhance the value of farms, and make markets accessible for the sale of their products, spare beasts of burden and save the wear and tear of wagons and harness. It is greatly to be desired that some economical plan may be devised to secure good roads, so that our communities may be enabled to enjoy their advantages. There is no doubt that our road laws have failed to accomplish, in a satisfactory manner, the object of their enactment. The system created by them is defective and needs thorough revision. I own I have no plan for correcting their defects, but I suggest to you, who are intelligent men of experience in practical affairs, to take the matter into consideration and endeavor to evolve some system which shall remedy their defects and secure better roads for the traveling public. As the question of good roads is a matter now much discussed, you can acquire much useful information in regard to them through pamphlets, which have been published and circulated with the view of suggesting the best method of improving and building good roads.

There will probably be submitted for your consideration a bill, designed to enable our State to take advantage of a law known as the Carey law, which gives to those States having large tracts of arid lands, a million of such acres on the condition of reclaiming them by irrigation. Our State is included among those entitled to avail themselves of its provisions. This is a highly important subject to Eastern Oregon, where there are large quantities of arid lands and where there are mountain ravines in which water maybe stored by dams for irrigating and making them productive and valuable. In this way, large tracts of arid lands may be reclaimed for the uses of civilization and become the happy abodes of industry and contentment. I commend the subject to your careful and intelligent consideration.

Our salmon fisheries, being one of our leading industries, are the source of great revenue and give employment to many men. Salmon fish, when prepared for market, constitute one of the principal exports of the State, and are an important part of its commerce. The necessity of proper regulations for salmon fishing, to preserve them from destruction, and to protect our future supply, is too manifest to require discussion. Whatever further regulations in this behalf are necessary ought to be established by the legislature and enforced by the courts. We cannot too vigilantly guard our salmon interests from destruction. The lesson taught by the history of other States, where they once abounded but have now disappeared, emphasizes the necessity of such regulations for their preservation and propagation. One of the means to preserve salmon and obviate their decrease, on account of the catch, is their artificial propagation, but I understand that some legislation is required on the part of the State to enable it to avail itself of the benefits to be derived under the regulations prescribed by the United States statutes for fish culture. Whatever legislation in this regard may be needed for the propagation and preservation of salmon should be enacted.

It is indispensable to the peace of society and the welfare of the people that the relation between those who perform manual labor and those who employ it shall be harmonious and satisfactory. But to secure this condition of feeling between them, the relation must be founded on recognized principles of justice, mutually contributing to the advantage and protection of each other. Both employer and employee have rights that must be respected and defended from the unjust demands and encroachments of the other. Neither can disregard the conditions essential to preserve harmony and good will between them without exposing society to disturbances and disastrous conflicts, endangering life and property. It is gratifying to know that our State has been free from the turbulence and disorder which has been so common in some of the other States, and that our exemption is due to the intelligence and orderly character of our industrial classes. It is a duty we owe them to look steadily after the conditions, which injuriously affect their employment and welfare. In my judgment, one of the greatest dangers that menace, honest labor is the indiscriminate immigration now inundating our country. To the poor and oppressed of other lands our country offers an asylum, but this invitation does not include the corrupt and vicious, the paupers and the criminal classes, nor those-worse still- who use its freedom to work its destruction. We cannot afford that our country shall be the dumping ground for the degraded and socialistic classes of other nations. This evil is upon us, and unless remedied sooner or later, we shall feel its contaminating influence upon our national life in disturbing the conditions that surround labor and that are essential to its independence and prosperity, and in endangering the health and safety of the people and the welfare of the republic. The people ought to make themselves heard upon this subject in tones so distinct as to cause their representatives to heed their demand for legislation which shall exclude from our shores this vicious and dangerous class of immigration.

A delay of justice often operates as a denial of justice. The bill of rights in our constitution declares that, “justice shall be administered openly and without purchase, completely and without delay.” The business of the supreme court is increasing so rapidly that it will soon become impossible for the judges to keep pace with it, and properly perform their duties. With the aid of their efficient stenographer, they have kept the work from accumulating as rapidly as it otherwise would, and are now only behind in the hearing of cases some two or three months. But in the nature of things, it cannot be long before their docket will be crowded with cases, causing much delay, vexation, and expense, before their final adjudication. In anticipation of this condition of things, an amendment was passed by the last legislature, which will be submitted to you, proposing an increase of two in the number of supreme judges. Upon this proposed amendment I shall leave you to act as your best judgment dictates. What I wish to suggest is that in my opinion appeals in civil cases might be considerably limited, and the business of the court largely decreased, by granting them only where the judgment rendered exceeds two hundred and fifty dollars, unless such judgment involves matters affecting lands, public revenue, or the construction of the constitution of the State and the United States. Upon examination, I think it will be found that a large number of cases involve sums of less than two hundred and fifty dollars, and in many instances, the object in appealing these cases is to obtain delay, or to gratify a bad feeling between the parties litigant. I am aware of the objection usually urged against such a law, namely, that every citizen should have the right of appeal, no matter how small the sum, otherwise its effect would be to discriminate against citizens of small means. On the other hand, many good citizens suffer injustice and wrong rather than submit to the long, expensive and vexatious delays, which usually attend a resort to the appellate court for redress.

Possibly some other remedy may be devised to correct this evil, but the necessity that relief should be afforded the court, and a prompt hearing and adjudication of causes be obtained, is imperative. The judges now are the hardest working officials in any department of State. Their duties comprise grave responsibilities and interests of the highest conceivable character. Life, liberty, reputation, and property are intrusted to their judgment, and rest upon their decision. They are, as your judges should be, men of ability and learning, wise in judgment, upright in character, firm and courageous in spirit, who will render their judgments uninfluenced by the voice of popular clamor and unintimidated by threats of political vengeance. Having such judges, it is your duty to afford them relief, and make sure reasonable compensation for their services. Their salary ought not to be reduced. Salaries should be commensurate with the duties, dignities, and responsibilities of the office to which they are attached. None should be so high that fortunes can be made from them, or so low that, with frugality, they are without pecuniary benefit. There are some officials, such as those composing the railroad commission, whose salaries could be reduced one third, and still be reasonable compensation for efficient services. The railroad commission, where it fulfills the purpose of its creation, is a useful body, and a benefit to the people, though I think one commissioner and his clerk are all that are needed.

The mode of selecting railway commissioners, as some other officers, by the legislature, is wrong and of doubtful validity, although sanctioned by custom and sustained by some judicial precedents. The power to appoint to an office ought to be lodged in the people or their executive. Such a power is not legislative, nor should it be exercised by the legislature except in the appointment of officers for its own body. Every statute which vests such power in the legislature ought to be amended in this regard, and lodged in the people or their executive. Such a change is needed in our statutes to save your valuable time for legislative service, to do away with trades and combinations to advance political fortunes, and to put an end to the disgraceful scenes that sometimes characterize the scramble for legislative appointments to office.

The public printing is swelled much beyond the needs of the public service, and ought to be largely diminished. Some of it is in form of tables more open than similar printing for private citizens, and part of it is not only of no public interest, but is of no public concern, consisting in some instances of mere printed blank forms that are of no more use than so many blank pages, except to count as an extravagant public expenditure. This is a serious injustice to those who foot the bills. The law authorizing public printing is too lax. You ought to investigate it thoroughly, for the purpose of ascertaining the nature and extent of its defects with a view of remedying it.

The national reform league is engaged in a movement to secure uniformity in the law governing marriage and divorce. This is an important subject, vitally affecting the interests of domestic life, and the welfare of the people, and is worthy of your attentive consideration. I would suggest that you appoint a committee without pay to examine into the merits of the subject and report the result of its deliberations to the next legislature.

Your attention is also directed to the necessity of extending the time for the redemption of realty sold at judicial sales. Owing to the financial depression and the depreciation in value of land and its products, forced sales at this time are relatively confiscatory.

There is also some demand for legislation in respect to the inspection of banks with a view of guarding the interests of those depositing money and doing business with them. It is claimed that some of the heavy losses, public and private, which occurred lately, owing to the suspension or failure of some of our banks, would have been averted if such law had been in force and operation. As practical business men acquainted with the wants of the communities, which you represent, I submit the desirability of this demand to your intelligent consideration.

Bills for the appropriation of the public moneys ought to be submitted to you early in the session so as to afford opportunity for the members to carefully examine and pass upon them, and not be left to the hurried consideration that marks the closing scenes. The custom of including in one bill, appropriations of the public moneys for every conceivable purpose, general and special, is thoroughly vicious, and ought not to be countenanced. There are certain fixed charges and liabilities for the support of the State government for which specific appropriations might be embodied in one bill, but in all other cases the bill ought not to include appropriations for more than one object. In other words, no bill appropriating public revenue, except as stated, should contain an appropriation for more than one object. By adopting this method, every appropriation must stand or fall upon its own merits; there will be afforded the executive an opportunity to interpose any objection that he may have to the appropriation without delaying the passage of appropriations that are unobjectionable or meritorious, and thus put in practice that wise principle incorporated in the constitutions of some States, which allows the executive to veto single items or appropriations in a general appropriation bill.

The rule that every measure should stand on its own merits is too apparent for discussion, but in no case is the reason for its application more manifest than in the consideration of bills appropriating the public revenue to be raised by taxation. Under the practice which has prevailed in this State of including in one bill appropriations for every conceivable public purpose and delaying its introduction until the end of the session, when there is no time for the members to examine it carefully, or the executive to exercise his power of veto without defeating appropriations contained therein needed for the public service, lavish and unnecessary appropriations have been secured, and the interests of the people disregarded. Experience has demonstrated in this Sate the embarrassment that is occasioned by the adjournment of the legislature without making needed appropriations for the support of the State, but these are ills which we had better bear or the expense of reconvening the legislature, than that the executive should feel compelled to approve a general appropriation bill that bears the mark of having been railroaded through the legislature during its expiring hours to avoid examination and discussion so as to secure some needless, extravagant, and objectionable appropriation of the public moneys.

In entering upon the performance of the duties to which we have been called, as the trusted agents of the people, we must not be unmindful of their wants and interests. We owe them a conscientious performance of duty and we must fulfill our obligation. That obligation requires us to lighten the burden of taxation wherever it can be effected without detriment to the public service. As a means to this end, the people demand that we exercise the same care and economy to avoid extravagance and needless public expenditures in the conduct of the public business as govern prudent men in the management of their private affairs. The conditions that surround them emphasize the necessity for the practice of public and private economy, for the reform of any wasteful habits or practices, and for diminishing the public expenditures and reducing taxation. To effect these reforms, lavish and unnecessary appropriations of the public money must not be countenanced or tolerated; for these always put an unjust burden on the backs of the people, tend to check industrial activity and business enterprise, and serve to retard the general growth and development of the State.

Gentlemen, we cannot overestimate the responsibilities of our positions. Our oaths will not rest lightly on our consciences if we neglect our duty or abuse our trust. We are brought together by a majority larger than the people ever before accorded to their representatives. To that extent it emphasizes more strongly our duty to redeem our pledges for retrenchment and reform. Let us all, without distinction of party, join in a common purpose to faithfully serve the State and advance the interests of its people. Let us cooperate in showing to them our sense of obligation and appreciation of the generous confidence reposed in us by jealously guarding the public revenues and withholding our sanction from any appropriation of them except for the public good-by reforming abuses which custom or bad laws have fastened on the body politic-by practicing a rigorous economy in the management of public affairs,-by reducing State taxation to the lowest possible limit consistent with a wise and economical administration of the public business,-by abolishing useless offices and discontinuing the employment of supernumeraries in the public service,-by enacting laws designed to advance the public welfare and repealing those which conflict with the interests of the people,-and by devoting our best energies and abilities to the advancement and prosperity of the State.

WM. P. LORD, Governor

Oregon Secretary of State • 136 State Capitol • Salem, OR 97310-0722
Phone: (503) 986-1523 • Fax: (503) 986-1616 • oregon.sos@state.or.us

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