Governor William P. Lord's Administration
Governor's Biennial Message, 1899
Source: Journal of House of the Legislative Assembly, 1899, Governor's Biennial Message, Salem, Oregon, W.H. Leeds, State Printer, 1899.
BIENNIAL MESSAGE OF GOVERNOR WM. P. LORD
TO THE TWENTIETH LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY 1899
Gentlemen of the Legislative Assembly:
You have assembled, in obedience to the requirements of the constitution, for the purpose of enacting such law as may be needed, in you judgment, better to protect the rights of person and property, to conserve the public interests and to promote the general welfare. The important duty is devolved upon you to carry out the mandate of the people for retrenchment and reform --- to abolish useless offices, boards and commissions, to cut off unnecessary expense, and to rid the body politic of abuses and hidden emoluments, of any exist; to withhold needless appropriations and reduce needed ones to a minimum in order that excessive taxation may be avoided and that the public expenditures may be reduced to the lowest possible limit consistent with a wise and economical administration of the state’s government. To qualify yourselves intelligently to perform these duties, it will be essential for you to acquire a through knowledge of the true condition of the state and its institutions. ‘This knowledge will be brought to you attention through detailed reports of the various departments of the state and the institutions under their charge, --- through committees appointed by your body to investigate and report on their condition and needs, --- and through such information of the affairs of the state as the executive may feel it his duty to communicate for you consideration and action.
Gentlemen, you have imposed upon you grave and responsible duties --- duties that you cannot neglect or evade without incurring the just condemnation of the people, and inflicting irreparable unjust upon your state. They are duties that demand, for their faithful and intelligent discharge, the uninterrupted use of every available hour of the 40 days allotted for you legislative labors; duties, I repeat, that, if well performed, will afford no time for sectional fights or senseless struggles for mere party advantage, or trades and combinations to fix legislative appointments to office. You are assembled under circumstances fought with less discouragements than those which confronted you legislative predecessors. The extraordinary financial and commercial depression which afflicted our country and blighted its prosperity is passing away. Already we feel the pulsations of reviving business, and hear the hum of industrial activity echoing thorough our borders. The future that awaits our state is full of promise. The natural conditions that environ it, backed by the energy, intelligence and skill of its people, and aided by wise legislation for the development of its abounding and varied resources, will make our state a center of financial and industrial activities. Nothing short of a policy handicapping its government with bad laws, excessive taxation and lavish expenditures can make Oregon a laggard in the procession of progressive and prosperous states. While it is true, there are some laws of trade and finance which control business, and which no statute and affect or abolish, it is equally true that legislative enactments often perform an important part in stimulation business and industrial enterprise, in opening the channels of trade and commerce, in protecting life and property, and in preserving many valuable natural resources from waste and destruction. To the extent that legislation may assist in the accomplishment of these objects, without disturbing or restricting trade, it ought to be enacted. Much has been done by past legislatures to aid in the development of some of the resources of our state, and to preserve others form extinction --- much to serve the public interests, by the adoption of measures of retrenchment and reform, which have kept her free from public debt and in the front rank of an advancing civilization; but much still remains to be done to supply her wants and more fully improve her resources and meet the growing demand for general enlightenment, for high standards of public duty, for better political methods and for more economical government. Upon you, gentlemen, rests the responsibility of inaugurating such measures as will effect these reforms. You alone have the power to pass bills and change existing laws, to inaugurate measures for bettering the condition of our institutions and reduce the tax levy. You owe the people as conscientious performance of duty according to your best ability I pray that you may not disappoint these just expectations.
It now becomes by duty to resent you a variety of information concerning the condition of the state, and to recommend such measures as may be deemed to be expedient.
Oregon has no debt, but there is a surplus in the treasure of $763,699.23. The following indicates the condition of the state’s finances:----
The receipts into the state treasury during the biennial term ending December 31,1898, including the balance on hand as per last report, were_________$2,777,031.50
The disbursements out of the several funds were_____________$2,013,332.27
Leaving a balance in the treasury of_________________$ 763,699.23
To the credit of the following funds:----
Common School Fund, Principal___________________ 444,898.17
Common school fund, Interest________________ 70,747.02
Agricultural College fund, principal___________ 9,308.63
Agricultural College fund, Interest____________ 938.07
University Fund, principal___________________ 3,093.27
University Fund, Interest____________________ 2,661.54
Swamp land fund__________________________ 2,687.45
Tide land fund____________________________ 19,201.57
Salmon industry fund______________________ 1,246.08
Thurston monument fund, interest____________ 14.44
University tax fund________________________ 15,919.34
Military tax fund__________________________ 1,747.03
I call your special notice to the fact that the principal of the common school fund, which was $150,398.28 two years ago, is now almost three times that sum. Also, I desire to call your attention to the fact that the tax levy of this year is greatly increased, on account of appropriations made by the special session, for objects not anticipated or contemplated by the board when the tax levy was made, towit: $313,000 for the Eastern Oregon asylum lands, $41,000 for the unorganized legislature of 1897, $15,000 for the Omaha exposition, $25,000 for an agricultural college building, and others, making in all about $200,000, in excess of the amount levied by the board, or one fourth of the entire tax levy.
ASSESSMENT AND TAXATION
NO matter of public concern is the cause of greater complaint, or vest with greater difficulty in its practical operation, than the law regulating the levy and collection of taxes. The cause of the complaint is the inequality of taxation. To insure uniformity and equality, it is indispensable that the law regulating assessments and taxation should be based on some rule of apportionment that operates impartially and rests on fixed principles of justice. Our law is based on the theory that all property, whether real or personal, should be assessed at its actual cash value, and, it is plain, where all property in the state is so assessed there will be equality of taxation. But the same consequences would follow if all the property of the state were assessed at less than its cash value, provided that he reduced rate of assessment were made equally to apply upon all property. The assessment being equally distributed upon all property, there would be equality in the payment of taxes. Inequality of taxation, then, is die, not to the fact that property is assessed too low, but to the fact that it is assessed unequally. Where this is the case the burdens of government are not shared equally, and a flagrant injustice is done some taxpayers. There is not so much difficulty in framing a law that, in theory, shall distribute the burdens of taxation as in securing its proper administration. Nor do I think our law, if fairly executed, according to its intent, fails to provide for impartial assessment of property. The difficulty is not so much with the law itself as with its administration. If the officers to whom is confided the duty of enforcing our law should strictly comply with its provisions, where would be little cause of complaint relative to assessment and taxation. There might be some amendments to our law that would operate beneficially, but its general provisions are based on principles, which, if fairly complied with, would proximate to equality of taxation and remove much dissatisfaction. At any rate, be slow in tinkering with tax laws, and, above all, be careful to avoid thrashing over old straw, for the result of your labors will be more apt to increase, than remove, the evil sought to be remedied. The framing of a tax law to supplant and old one, expected to remedy all defects and give universal satisfaction, is a delusion; but, somehow, it is a public service always attractive to youthful and inexperienced statesmanship.
Considering the poor location of the penitentiary, on low, wet ground, and the conditions surrounding it, it was highly essential, as a matter of ordinary care, that ample and thorough provision should have been made for its sewerage and that is lands should have been drained in order to ward off miasmatic conditions and to promote general healthfulness; that its buildings and outbuildings should have been kept in good condition and not allowed to become dilapidated and out of repair, with a view to their preservation and better to serve the interests of economy and good government. I regret to say, that, when the prison and its belongings was received by the present superintendent, this condition of things did not exist, and, while its true that many things had been done in this direction, they had not been prosecuted to the extent demanded by the plain necessities of the situation. The condition of the prison was such that the superintendent was compelled to make many improvements and repairs, the necessity for which had existed some time and could not longer be delayed, though without funds for this purpose. Notwithstanding the difficulties which confronted him, the superintendent, by practicing rigid economy and intelligently utilizing the prison labor, was able to make pressing repairs and utilizing the prison labor, was able to make pressing repairs and needed improvements. Besides mending the floors, putting in new window sills, planks in porches and guard walks, where they were rotten and broken, he painted portions of the building and fences, where needed for their preservation, and especially a large structure built of corrugated iron, that was rapidly going to decay from exposure to weather. Also, he built a new flume for the water race, cleaned up the prison yard and the channel of the stream and its banks therein, and renovated a portion of the sewerage escape, which, when opened, disclosed that it had been illy constructed of unfit material, that made it a hotbed of filth and a breeder of disease; reclaimed several acres of wet lands, and tiled and drained others, to render them profitable for the agricultural uses, and prevent malarial conditions. It is believed that the prison and its belongings are in a fair condition, considering the limited means for its repairs, though there are other improvements needed, especially with reference to its sewerage. I ask special attention to the report of the superintendent, and believe that his recommendations should receive favorable consideration. I reiterate the recommendation, that the penitentiary, though its own agency, be entrusted with the transportation of convicts. I especially request that you examine the bills for transportation, under the present system, filed in the office of the secretary of state, and ascertain whether this recommendation deserves again to be disregarded.
No more perplexing problem presses for solution than the working of convicts. The penitentiary has always been a serious charge on the state, because the maintenance of convicts is necessarily expensive, unless they are profitable employed. Thus far, the result of working convicts in any enterprise, either by the state or by leasing them to private parties, has not proved entirely satisfactory or very remunerative. It was a serious and expensive mistake, when the state bought the foundry plant and undertook its operation. Its profitable management was, not doubt, greatly handicapped by the financial depression, but, generally speaking, such business enterprises are more profitable conducted by private parties. Shortly after entering upon my official term, it was found that the foundry was working only a few convicts, who were piling up goods on those already manufactured, not any of which could be sold, owing to the lack of demand occasioned by hard times. To have continued the operation of the foundry under these circumstances would necessarily have resulted in putting the state at heavy expense for the purchase of raw material and the pay of superintendents and foremen, and, at the same time, left on hand an overstock of manufactured goods for which there we not sale --- though, of course, the board could have made an excellent showing on paper, by setting up these unsold manufactured products at a good price rate, and count them as cash assets.
Under an act passed by the eighteenth legislative assembly, a contract was made with J. Loewenberg in July, 1895, for convict labor, and the board of mangers of the state foundry leased him the plant and sold him the manufactured stock on time. His obligations to the state were not met, but in view of the bad business conditions which existed throughout the country and the desirability of keeping the convicts employed, the board deemed it better, for the interests of all concerned, to be forbearing and grant Mr. Loewenberg some extension of time to meet his payments. In the spring of 1898 and accommodation was arranged whereby he promised to make certain payments at the times specified therein, but failing to do this, his default was reported to the special session of the legislature. As a result of this action, a committee was appointed to confer with the board, which committee recommended that proceedings be instituted to enforce the payments in default. After suit had been commenced, property attached, etc., it was deemed best to put the property attached in the hands of a trustee authorized to sell the same, and also to operate the plant with convict labor and use the raw material already purchased, in the manufacture of stoves, and after paying expenses to hold the surplus for payment on the indebtedness to the state until the first of March, in order afford Mr. Loewenberg time to make arrangements to meet his obligations and preserve his business from destruction, as would necessarily result through a forced sale.
For further particulars I invite your attention to the report of the board of managers of the stove foundry.
It is thought by those who have given much consideration to reclaiming youthful criminals, that reformatories are useful and beneficial institutions. It is much better for the state penitentiary to associate with hardened criminals. The effect of such association during their term of confinement usually is to develop their term of confinement usually is to develop their evil tendencies and make them confirmed criminals. When youthful criminals are placed in reformatories, they are separated from the society and influence of hardened criminals, and, with proper care and treatment, they may be impelled to turn from their evil habits and lead useful and exemplary lives. The effect of punishment on criminals of the depraved class is seldom to cause them to reform or to lead better lives; but for the youthful criminal, whose evil habits have not become confirmed, it is better for society to make an effort to reform him. IN recognition of the wisdom of this policy, our state has established a reform school. The practical operation of this school indicates a considerable degree of success. Its expense has been greatly decreased during the past two years, and the superintendent repots that a further decreases may be made in the cost of maintenance during the ensuing two years.
I desire to recommend that the wooden building now occupied by the farmer at the reform school be converted into a girls reformatory. There are not many girl criminals, and the location of the building is favorable for their care and safety. Two or three cells might be fixed in it for the reception of female convicts, of whom there are seldom more than one or two, and oftener none. There is no place for this class at the penitentiary and the necessities of the case require them to be kept strictly confined to their cells, which is an unnecessary hardship. The additional cost will be slight, and the present management will not be disturbed.
It is not simply a dictate of duty, but of humanity, that the tenders care and best provision should be made for the comfort and recovery of that unfortunate class of our people. Who are wholly or in part deprived of their reason. What class can more justly appeal to our sympathies, or have better right to ask that our best thought and skill be devoted to the amelioration of their condition? No reasonable expense should be spared to furnish them with the best medical attendance, and to make their surroundings agreeable. There is no better test of the progress of civilization in a state than the adequacy of its provisions for the care, support and protection of insane. The progress made in the study and treatment of nervous diseases has been rapid and successful, being based on the idea that insanity is a disease, and should be treated, as other diseases, with a view to recovery, except where conditions exist that render such a result impossible. IN conformity with this idea it is suggested that the words “Oregon State Insane Asylum,” descriptive of our institution, should be changed to “Oregon State Hospital.” Our state has not been backward, nor spared expense to provide suitable places for the comfortable care and treatment of this unfortunates. A good building with the best improvements, good surroundings, excellent care, and the best medical attendance, is provided for them. The asylum is, as it should be, a public generosity rightly directed, but it should not be abused. There is no doubt, owing to the laxity of our laws, that many persons are sent to the asylum, and remain there, who are not proper subjects for its charity, and that, if the defects in our law in this particular were remedies, and fuller powers conferred on the superintendent, it would greatly diminish the number accounted insane, and reduce the expense of the institution. The practice of some county courts in sending persons who are not insane, but simply affected with the infirmities of old age, to the asylum, often through the pressure of relatives, is wrong in principle, and often tends to encourage filial ingratitude. Another class, known as the “morphine fiends,” who have reached the point of personal degradation where the habit is fixed and a permanent change is improbable, ought to be excluded. Nor is a hospital the proper place for the idiot. Cheap buildings, with large dormitories and few attendants, under the superintendent, as an adjunct, would answer every purpose.
Gentlemen of the assembly, I here and now reiterate my recommendation of two years ago, that the asylum, through its own agency, should be entrusted with the responsible duty of conveying the insane to the hospital. To serve t his purpose there should be tow attendants, a man and a woman, appointed to go after patients and bring them to the institution, who should receive a fair salary as compensation for their services, and actual expenses for themselves and patients. These agents should be persons of intelligence, of kindly disposition, of steady habits and decision of character. They would soon become experts in handling patients, and quickly learn how to attend their wants and spare them unnecessary pain or mental distress. The difference in the cost, as compared with the present practice, is much greater than generally known. It is the same policy which is recommended for the state prison. Under the system proposed, it would not cost a dollar for the transportation of intended inmates from Salem to either place, while under the existing system it costs $8.50. Under the first they would be taken in groups, to save expense, where several awaited transportation, while, under the latter, they are taken separately to fatten the job. In defense of the practice it is said that the law allows it; but the fact that such practices may exist under a low is the best reason for its repeal. There is another reason for its repeal and the adoption of the system recommended that is unanswerable. No man should be permitted wholly to have charge of conveying an insane female patient to the hospital. The law which authorized such commitments of female patients is a relic of barbarism. What act can be more barbaric, what spectacle more revolting, than an officer dragging from her home an unfortunate woman, frantic and helpless, through crowded thoroughfares, before gaping crowds and over the railroads to her destination at the asylum? Several hours as least, and sometimes days, must be occupied in her transportation, and during this interval of time think of the indignities to which she is unavoidable exposed – think of what in many instances must be her pitiable, indescribable condition when she arrives. Common decency demands that this insult to womanhood shall cease.
The reports of the medical superintendent and of the board of trustees of the asylum are carefully prepared documents, and will furnish you in detail all information apprising to the management of the institution.
I also recommend the acceptance of the offer of the Oregon Children’s Aid Society to donate to the state the Orphan’s Home, at Salem, which consists of fifteen acres of excellent land and good buildings, containing at this time over twenty inmates. IN the near future the state will be compelled to make provision for this class of friendless and helpless humanity, whose care and right bringing up concerns the public welfare as well as their own, and the present offer of the buildings and grounds, without cost, as a home for them, is a liberal gratuity that ought to be accepted with alacrity. In the event you should adopt this recommendation, the law should provide for the appointment of a board, to be composed of women, not to exceed five in number, to whom should be committed the management of the affairs of the home, and who should receive only actual expenses for their services.
STATE LAND DEPARTMENT
Oregon has been the beneficiary of large land grants for various objects, and much legislation has beneficed and enacted in regard to them, but our state has not realized the benefits and advantages which it should have received from them. All that can now be done its to take care of and dispose of what remains, so as vest to promote the objects and distribute the benefits of these grants. It is greatly to be regretted that the law did not make better provision for the segregation and mapping of state lands, for indexing all sales of them and disclosing their location, and further providing that the officers in charge of the land office, when requested by a purchaser, or other interested person, should give the information asked, as appeared on the record. It would have saved purchasers much unnecessary expense, and greatly aided in conferring the benefits designed to be given by the grants. But, without legal provision, the land department office ought to have adopted ruled and regulations that would have served this purpose. The records of the office ought to have been kept in such a way that a person desirous of purchasing a certain piece of state land could easily ascertain its location, whether it was taken or was for sale, without incurring the unnecessary expense of hiring a third party. By neglecting to do so, it was only possible for its officers, or those who had acquired special knowledge of the location of state lands, to consul the records as kept and ascertain the desired facts. Such am ode of doing public business offers too much temptation for wrongdoing and scandalous practices to justify its existence or continuance. Some of our statutes, however, seem to have been expressly designed to encourage spoliation of state land purchasers. The aim of the present land board has been to make the land office serviceable and inexpensive to those having business with it, and, under the direction and management of its efficient clerk and his subordinates, the records have been classified and arranged, indexes and notations on the maps have been made and rules and regulations have been adopted, designed to simplify and expedite the public business, and make inexpensive the doing of business in the land department.
LOANS OF THE SCHOOL FUND
In connection with the state lands, it needs to be mentioned that lands of the school funds, in many instances, owing to the hard times and overvaluation of the land, have proven ban investments and entailed losses upon the school fund, In many of these loans the borrowers have defaulted in payment of interest, and the state has been com impelled to take the security and to pay the cost of foreclosure proceedings. These judgments represent, in addition to the principal loaned and the costs of suit, a large accumulation of interest, which lessens to that amount the school fund interest to be annually distributed for the education of children in our common schools. Another source of loss and annoyance is the sale of lands for taxes two or three years overdue, without notice to the board, thus entailing further expense in redeeming them. This loss ought to be obviated by such legislation as would make it unlawful to sell for taxes any securities held by the state, without proper notice to the land board in all instances, where the taxes are in default, and in such cases making it the duty of the board, upon such notice, to cause the taxes to be paid and charge the same to the interest account, and at once proceed to the procure a decree with the tax included. In making collections, it has been the policy of the board to deal as leniently as circumstances would permit with debtors to the school fund during the financial and industrial depression which so seriously affected the cause of property and contracted the means of earning money. To loan the school fund and avoid losses is difficult. The persons composing the board, though they be capable I another walks of life, may not possess that business sense and judgment that is especially required in making loans. Their sources of information, resection the value and sufficiency of the security offered for the loans are through agents in the different counties, upon whose judgment the must depend, and who are liable at times to recommend loans that are not desirable, through entreaty of friends and yielding disposition.
SELECTIONS OF LIEU LANDS
The special agent appointed to select lands, under the act of 1895, has prosecuted his work energetically and efficiently, adding many thousand acres of valuable suggestions relating to the disposition of our public lands, not lest among which is his recommendation that the act, creating his office and its duties, having accomplished the object for which it was enacted, be abolished. There being, therefore, no further need for the continuance of the act, I concur in his suggestion and recommend its repeal.
No other country has salmon fisheries so extensive and profitable as the states bordering the Columbia river. Oregon’s fishing interest is justly regarded as one of our leading industries. Salmon fish, canned or cured, constitute one of our principal exports and an important part of our commerce. The industry affords employment to many persons, and is the source of great revenue. Its growth and preservation is a matter of the highest importance to the welfare of our states. I trust that the law enacted at the recent special session of the legislature will prove adequate and effective for the purpose, and save salmon from waste and destruction.
The report of the fish commissioner is an able and interesting document, giving in full detail all matters of importance and interest connected with the fishing industries, and making many valuable suggestions for your consideration that are of the utmost moment to the preservation of this source of our revenue. It gives me great pleasure to commend the whole of his report to your attentive consideration, and to bear witness to the fidelity and ability with which he has performed the onerous and difficult duties of his office.
Several barrels of eastern oysters have been shipped to our state by the general government upon request of the fish commissioner, and transplanted in Yaquina bay for he purpose of propagation. There will probably be more of such oysters sent when the season is favorable for planting in other suitable places in the bays and rivers of our coast. It is important that proper legislation for their protection should be enacted at once. I recommend a small appropriation for their planting and care. It is also important that some protection be furnished the native oyster from destruction by fishnets, whose repeated dragging over the beds will eventually destroy the oyster entirely.
OREGON NATIONAL GUARD
The general government recognizes the necessity of a national guard by its cooperation in maintaining the system in each of the states. The guard is intended as a reserve force, to be used by the state always with caution, but nevertheless with firmness, for the protection of life and property, when the civil authorities are powerless in the presence of disorderly uprisings or mob violence. There has been but one occasion when its presence was thought necessary and demanded by the civil authorities. This as at Astoria during the summer of 1896. To the call the guard promptly responded, and though no collision occurred, by reason of wiser counsels prevailing, their conduct was marked by excellent discipline and soldierly behavior. Their presence at Astoria involved a fundamental principle of government. It is the duty of the state to protect personal liberty and well as property. A man may work or not, as he may choose, not under penal restraint. He has a right to make his own contract and serve whom is his pleasure, consistent with public policy; and any person who, though menace, threat, or force, interferes or prevents him from the enjoyment of these privileges, is a violator of the law and an enemy of his country. Such interference is a deadly blow at personal liberty, guaranteed by our constitution, and its toleration is inimical to free government. It will not be possible for our state, so greatly in need of capital, to develop its varied and abundant resources and to offer an inviting field for the investment of capital, unless it steadily maintains its constitutional guaranty to protect alike all property and secure to every man the right to pursue his daily work without molestation. But, in saying this, I must add, that I favor conciliatory methods of interference through state officials to b ring about an adjustment of differences between capital and labor, which shall be fair and honorable to all parties.
It is to the credit of the national guard that, to save any additional expense to the state, the suggestion that is expenses, while doing duty at Astoria, be taken out of the fund for their maintenance, was acceded to, requiring the troops to forego an encampment and of the military matters quite essential to their comfort, equipment, and discipline. The sum thus expended, if needed, might be refunded to the guard after its reorganization shall be effected.
When the late war with Spain was declared and our quota of troops was allotted, accompanied with the request by the president that the national guard be given preference, there was quick response. Within five days from the order for their mobilization at Portland, a full regiment, armed and equipped, with banners streaming and drums beating, marched through its streets, in response to their country’s summons to duty. Within less than a month the regiment was in San Francisco, ready for embarkation for the Philippine islands, where the courage and skill, loyalty and patriotism of its officers and soldiers greatly aided in the capture of Manila and the subjugation of the islands to the sovereignty of the United States. The enlistments to fill the quota of troops for the war left the state practically without a military guard, and the fund used to support and maintain a guard not being needed, for the want of one, has accumulated in the treasury. This sum, and the sum the state will be entitled to receive for clothing and equipments furnished the second Oregon volunteer regiment, will aggregate quite a large amount of money, which, in case the same or any part of it shall lapse into the treasury, may be re-appropriated, or refunded to the guard, upon a sufficient showing that it is needed, in addition to the regular appropriation derived from the military law, for a reorganization of the guard and its proper equipment and maintenance. Our national guard is composed of excellent young men, who come from the people, and their enlistment is prompted by a patriotic spirit, to serve and defend their state and its institutions. Their presence is a pledge for good order and an assurance that the executive is able faithfully to execute the laws.
The merits of this institution, and its benefits to the old soldiers, are too well known to require comment. The management of its affairs through a board of trustees has been careful and economical. But, in my judgment, there is no need of a board to overlook its condition and affairs. The board ought to be abolished. It would be much better that ht executive should appoint the commandant, upon whom would devolve the duty and responsibility of the management of the affairs of the institution, subject to supervision by the governor, who would make regular inspections, through some member of his staff, thoroughly qualified for the duty. This system would put the home in contact with the department to which it is related, without being subject to military law, and secure a thorough inspection of its affairs at regular intervals, or on special occasions, as might be necessary, by a competent officer. This plan would doubtless be more satisfactory to all concerned, would enforce strict accountability of its officers, and secure an economical and efficient administration of its affairs, consistent with the needs and comforts of its inmates.
One of the largest interests of our state, and the source of much of its wealth, is the cultivation of the soil. Anything that increases its productions aids in the development of the state. As connected with farming, horticulture is a profitable adjunct, and the interest now being manifested in the culture of fruits promises to develop a leading industry, diversifying farming, and adding greatly to our wealth. Such being the case, horticulture should be encouraged, under such regulations as will be productive to the best results. For comprehensible treatment of this subject, I invite you attention to the able report of the board of horticulture, and recommend that sufficient funds be appropriated for the continuance of this valuable work as essential to the best interests of the state.
The frequent destruction of our forests by fires, caused by carelessness or design, should be stopped. Their preservation is a matter of great importance, and, if something is not done to prevent it, great importance, and, if something is not done to prevent it, great injury will result to our timber interests. I am glad to note that the government of the United States, through the agency of the land commissioner’s office, is making some praiseworthy efforts to this end, but I believe that forest lands of the state, being within its sovereignty, and its people interested in their preservation, should be under state dominion and control, and that the state should devise laws and provide means for their enforcement, to prevent the destruction of forests by fire.
This is a subject of considerable interest to the people of the eastern part of the state. We have many acres of land, known as arid lands, that could be made wonderfully productive and profitable under the fertilizing influence of irrigation. The problem of water supply for these waste places is becoming every day more pressing, but its solution is confronted with many difficulties. Whatever law should be enacted, great care should be taken to protect the interests of the people and prevent them from being seized under the guise of public good by private corporations for speculative purposes.
There is at this time an active interest being taken in the subject of good roads. The movement should be encouraged. Good roads are of such public utility and importance and are of such general interest that measures designated to secure them will be submitted for your consideration and action. Our present law is lamentable behind the age in the matter of road improvements; it ought to be gotten rid of and some other adopted looking to a systematic effort to improve our public highways. A new system should be provided. All road taxes should be paid in money, and the present system of working our roads taxes at extravagant wages under supervisors, often selected without reference to their qualifications, should cease. I earnestly beg your attention to this subject, in the hope that you will bring about some legislation that will result in securing the improvement of our roads.
The general diffusion of knowledge is the best guaranty of the stability of republican institutions. Their safety and prosperity depends on the spread of knowledge among the masses. The fact is now recognized that intelligence in communities is essential to social progress, and political reform is conducive to sobriety and industry and serves to establish justice and promote the public interests. As a means of dissemination intelligence, our common schools are most active and potent factors. There are no other instrumentalities comparable with them for the accomplishment of this object. They seek to increase the general average of human intelligence by the education of the rising generation, and in this way to elevate the citizen and strengthen the state. The state cannot neglect its educational interests with our loss of public intelligence and detriment to its well being. It is gratifying to know that the subject of education always attracts much attention from the legislature on account of its importance in the development of an intelligent citizenship and a progressive civilization. How to devise a system of education that shall extend its opportunities and benefits to all the children of the state, without entailing too heavy a load on the taxpayer, it a problem not often easy of solution. A law, simple in its provisions and inexpensive in its arrangements, is what our state needs for the attainment of this object. Our present school law has become a clumsy and costly contrivance from too frequent patching by way of amendments, some of which seem to have no reference to its symmetry or general design, and always providing, as a condition precedent, for the payment of fees that serve no educational purpose and are an unjust tax on the teacher. The whole law ought to be repealed and the new law enacted, embracing its meritorious provisions, leaving our what is defective and useless and including such other provisions as will make an efficient and an inexpensive common-school system, relatively considered.
It is impossible to enter upon details, and probably unnecessary at this time, as there are assurances that some of our educators will present these matters to the consideration of the legislature. There is, however, serious need for reform in the method of issuing state certificates, diplomas and life diplomas. If the number of these documents issued by the present board even approximately represents the number issued by our predecessors, they must be scattered over the state “thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks of Vallombrosa,” and worth but little more as evidence of capability for teaching. The original design of the law was simple and excellent. It contemplated that the board of education should appoint a board of examiners, composed of men trained in practical teaching and of scholarly attainments, who were to meet at the capital twice a year for the purpose of examining applicants for teachers’ certificates and diplomas, and recommend to the board such teachers as became entitled to them. By this method the state secures the service of trained men to select teachers, and the diplomas issued on their recommendation by the board would be of value to their possessors, as affording some guaranty of their fitness and qualification. Such examinations would tend to weed our incompetence and secure a high grade of teachers for our public schools, and thus prove of incalculable benefit to the children of our state. It is to be hoped these matters, and all others connected with the school law, will receive that attention and consideration which the public interest demands. For details of school matters, I refer you to the superintendent’s report.
The object of the normal schools is to furnish teachers for our common schools. The scope of their work includes special instruction in those branches of education which are taught in the public schools, and thorough training in the science of teaching. The effect of their work, when successfully prosecuted, is to increase the usefulness of the teacher and elevate the standard of passable adjuncts to our common school system. Without them we cannot expect to have young men and women trained and equipped to supply the demand of our local schools. It is g ratifying to know that the value of normal training is recognized by our people, and that the work of the normal schools is progressing satisfactorily, and resulting in great benefit to our common work, and aloof from education in other branches, or for other purposes than training experts for teaching; then their success is assured and their expense will probably be greatly reduced.
There are those who think our university should not receive financial support, while there are others who think it is bad policy and worse economy to withhold from it any needed aid. It is no doubt true that taxation is for the general benefit, and that objects of its fostering care should conserve the public good. But the fact that comparatively few can enjoy the university’s advantages is not conclusive that its benefits are not for the public welfare. If the university is an essential part of our educational system in conducing to the progress and development of our state, and to the prosperity and intellectual greatness of the people, fit is of general benefit and entitled to receive public support. The university aims to furnish such an education as will enable those --- always the few --- who possess the requisite abilities, to become useful citizens and leaders of thought in the professions, in statesmanship, in the various branches of learning, in philanthropy and works of charity, in promoting industrial projects and conducting commercial enterprises, and in devising methods for the moral and political advancement of the people. It existence is due to recognition of the fact that the state needs captains in every department of life, affecting human happiness and welfare, and that, as a means to this end, it should provide an institution of learning whose course of study would lay the foundation to supply them; and perhaps, too, some of those benefactors of our race, whose enlightened influences shall hereafter be traced in the improved condition of our species, and in the increased prestige and power of our state. The state cannot afford to wait or depend on local enterprise, or church organizations, to establish and maintain institutions of learning --- splendid and worthy as have been their efforts and success --- for the accomplishment of these great objects of public concern. The crown of our educational system is the university. We should strive to lift it to a plane where it may compete with similar institutions of other states, and save our children the necessity and expense of going abroad to acquire a higher education. It is entitled to receive the financial aid and fostering care of the state. Money spent to further its legitimate aims and ends is not gratuity but a good investment for the state.
Our people, to a large extent, are engaged in agricultural and industrial purposes. A sound, practical education along the lines of these callings or vocations is a need of our people, and its benefits to the state cannot be overestimated. To fill this want is the object of the agricultural college in our educational system. Its chief end and aim is to give its students a thorough agricultural and mechanical training, as distinct from college or university courses. It is a different education in practical results from a university education, but is not in conflict with it. In this age when so many industrial projects require mechanical or scientific education for their management, the agricultural college affords excellent opportunities for acquiring such an education. It is gratifying to know that the present management of our agricultural college has been attended with unusual success, and that its results in all departments are highly satisfactory.
DEAF-MUTE AND BLIND SCHOOLS
It has often occurred to me that it would have been far better for the deaf-mutes and blind, and cheaper for the state, to have delayed several years the building of our present institutions for them, and to have sent these unfortunates to some old established school, fully equipped in all its departments, embracing many branches of art and trade, presided over by skilled teachers --- always difficult to procure in a new country --- and affording many advantages that new institutions cannot provide. Some states find it much cheaper and more satisfactory to pursuer this policy than to maintain such institutions. Among the causes leading to the premature building of such institutions are the creating of new offices and places, and the increase of appropriations that serve to stimulate local business. These are considerations, though, which come too late to be of benefit, but they may serve to show the necessity of intelligent and economical management of the affairs of such institutions. These unfortunate people are entitled to the deepest sympathy and liberal support, because of their helpless and dependent condition. This is especially true of the blind, who are shut out from all recourse to the beauties of nature or works of art, which are a source of so much mental elevation and pleasure, and must grope their way though life in darkness and ignorance e, except as by training they may be made to advance in learning, and to comprehend the beautiful in nature and in art. Not quite so unfortunate, but equally worthy or your kindest consideration, are there deaf-mutes, some of whom possess great quickness of parts, and a mental capacity that, when trained, makes them useful and self-supporting citizens and leaders in some departments of business. It is the duty of the state to make ample provision for these unfortunates, and to afford them every facility for their improvement and the betterment of their condition, consistent with an economical management. At this time the expense of maintaining the blind school is disproportionate to its benefits --- though, perhaps, unavoidable so --- owing to the small number of its students; but since the law requires this institution to be conducted, I do not believe its expense can be avoided and the aims of the mute school and the blind school be sub served by permanent consolidation. As the asylum is greatly in need of more room for it patients, and some provision will have to be made for their accommodation at once, it will be cheaper and better turn over the present mute school and its lands to the asylum, and build a mute school in town, where the education of its students would be greatly aided and facilitated by contact with other people. In v view of these facts, it might be advisable, temporarily, for the mute school to use the blind school building, and to include the blind students in its management, except as to recitation exercises, until a mute school can be erected in town, during the ensuing two years. AT the expiration of that time the blind school will probably need its own building for the use of its students.
The need of a registration law in our larger towns in so manifest that there is almost a universal demand for the enactment of such a law. There seems to be an impression that our supreme court, in White v. Commissioners, 13 Or. 317, laid down a rule that would render any registry law that might be devised unconstitutional. Though I do not concur in the reasoning of the opinion (which I think is able, and which, I believe, has been the subject of undue criticism), it is manifest, from the concurring opinion in the result and the dissenting opinion, that the majority of the court thought that a registry law could be enacted that would be constitutional. My own view is that where the constitution confers a political right without designation manner in which such right is to be exercised, it carries by implication sufficient procedure to ascertain in whom right exists, for its orderly exercise or enjoyment; but that procedure must be subordinate to the right --- it must not impair or destroy it. In other words, that the legislature may regulate the exercise of such political right, but, in doing so, it must not embarrass, impair or destroy it. This is what I understand to be the effect of the decision in Capen v. Foster, 12 Pick. 488, to which reference was made in the concurring opinion. The constitution of Massachusetts confers the right of suffrage, but does not designate the mode of its exercise. In construing the congratulations for the exercise of the right to vote, Mr. C. J. Shaw, in that case, was careful to put this limitation on the power of the legislature. He said: “Such a construction would afford no warrant for such an exercise of legislative power as, under the pretense or color of regulating, should subvert or injuriously restrain the right itself.” This is what I thought our law did --- impair, injuriously restrain, etc., the right itself --- and hence the law was unconstitutional, and necessarily I concurred in the result, though through a mode of reasoning which was not inconsistent wit a registry law. I think a registry law could be enacted that would be constitutional.
The business of the supreme court has increased so rapidly that the court is now behind more than two years in the hearing of causes. It is imperative that some relief should be afforded the court, so that a prompt hearing and adjudication of causes may be obtained. It is thought that our constitution limits the supreme court to three judges, and, if this is so, there is no means if increasing their number of judges, except by amendment, which would require too much time for its adoption to afford the desired relief. To remedy this condition of affairs, the appointment of a commission is proposed, to serve for a term of four years, to assist the court in hearing the deciding cases, in the expectation that within that period its docket will be cleared, and, in the meantime, if the proper steps are taken to secure the adoption of an amendment, so as to increase the number of judges, then there will give no future accumulation of causes.
There is this much to be said for the proposition to appoint a commissioners’ court, namely, that the constitutionality of such a body has been fully tested in the courts of several states and the decisions have uniformly been favorable to their validity. This being so, there will be no question involving the validity of its judgments and embarrassing the supreme court with their determination, as would likely be the case with the judgments of the supreme court of two additional members were added to that body. Nor can there be any doubt that the commission would be able to deal promptly with pending cases and greatly aid in their prompt disposition and thus afford the desired relief to the court and litigants. For these reasons it 9s desirable, if a law is to be enacted authorizing a commissioners’ court, that is should be passed at once in order that such court may begin the work of relieving the congested condition of the supreme court docket. Or, if your body shall not be disposed to adopt this recommendation, then I suggest this plan: First, to enact a law that shall limit appeals in civil cases to the supreme court to those involving title to real estate or matter affecting the public revenue, the construction of the constitution of the state or of the United States, or where question of franchise is raised, or where the amount of the judgment or decree of the lower court is reversed, leaving it optional with the court to write and file opinions in cases affirmed. The records of the supreme court show that about 30 per cent. Of the cases appealed are under $500, valuing from less than $50 to that sum. THE fact that the court is over two years behind in its work serves as an inducement to appeal cases in many instances to delay justice or cause vexation and expense. It thus tends to encourage litigation and breed discord in the community. That chronic argument that every citizen should be the right to appeal, no matter how small the sum, is entitled to little consideration. The community should not be taxed several hundred dollars to gratify two obstinate men in bandying some rival matter through the courts, when its merits can be fully considered and decided in the circuit court as a court of last resort. The effect, then, of limiting appeals to the supreme court, as indicated, would be to cut down one third of the appealable cases, which would be a great gain; and leaving it optional with the court to write opinions in cases affirmed, would greatly aid in relieving the court, and perhaps enable it to keep pace with this work and at the same time afford the court more time for the preparation of opinions in cases where important principles are involved.
THE organization of new counties and an increase in the population has led to the creation of more circuit judges than are warranted by the requirement of public justice or the interests of economy. The work of the different judges is notoriously unequal. In the first district, where the population is rural, and (according to the state census) numbers only 24,537, there are two judges, while in the adjoining district, which has much greater business activities, there is a population of 52,079, with one judge. IN the sixth district there are but two counties with only 16,968 inhabitants, and one judge, while in the third district there are 75,019 people, with two judges. Again, in the ninth district there are only three counties, with a population of 9,248 and no large town, with one circuit judge, while in the fifth district there is only one judge to a population of 54,613, almost six times as great and including several tons on considerable size, full of business activities and much more exposed to criminal litigation. There is needed but one judge in the first district, with another county added, and then his work would not be equal to the work of the judges in the second and fifth districts. Three circuit judges only are needed in the forth district, with another county added to it. The powers of the municipal judge in Portland might be increased and broadened. Instead of 14, there are only 11 circuit judges needed to do judicial duty, if the districts were readjusted and the labor equalized. Upon this subject I know that my recommendations are practical, feasible and economical, but, I own, I am not confident of their adoption.
The office of attorney-general is important in its relations to the public service and its abolition would be detrimental to it. The supposition that its duties are not arduous and not needed is a serious mistake. This officer is kept almost constantly employed in advising and furnishing written opinions to the various officers, boards and commissions, and in trying appeal cases in the supreme court. It is true that his opinion is only advisory, but that fact makes it none the less valuable, nor furnishes a reason for dispensing with it. It is not thought, under the law, that the attorney-general is required to practice in nisi prius has always appeared in the circuit courts, when specially requested and his services could be spared from his regular duties.
AS a matter of economy and justice, the state salary of the district attorneys ought to be abolished. These officers are paid fees, whenever they appear for the state or county, and no injustice would be done them in cutting off their state salary. This would compensate for the office of the attorney-general, upon whom devolve many of the duties that formerly were wholly attached to their offices. In the interests of economy, I think, the district attorneys will sanction the suggestion.
At present our law requires a unanimous verdict of the jury in civil and criminal cases. The failure to obtain a unanimous verdict is often the cause of mistrials, which greatly increase the expenses of the courts and of litigants. It is suggested that the public interest, as well as the interest of litigants, might be better conserved, if the agreement of two thirds or three fourths of a jury upon a verdict should be sufficient in civil cases.
The burden; on our taxpayers under our system of taxing costs has become so grievous that some relief must be afforded them by this legislature. It is not believed that our officials are not honestly performing their duties, or that the evil complained of lies in the administration of the law, but in the law itself, and, until it shall be radically changed, there can be no effective reform in the system, or relief afforded our overburdened taxpayers. Under our laws, in all criminal prosecutions before a justice of the peace, or before the grand jury, with a few slight exceptions, where the prosecution is unsuccessful, or where , if successful, the costs cannot be made out of the defendant, which is commonly the case, all the legal costs, including officers’ fees, jail fees and fees of witnesses, are paid by the county; and to these costs must be added the costs in all misdemeanors and felony cases where there is dismissal or nolle prosequi, or where, for any cause, the defendant is discharged before indictment, or after indictment and before verdict. It this appears, except in the few cases where costs may be disallowed because of the frivolous or malicious nature of the prosecution, that the costs of criminal prosecutions are practically guaranteed by the county, with the obvious result of encouraging useless prosecutions --- which is a radical fault of the system. As a matter of fact, the costs are taxed to, and paid by, the county, even in cases where the prosecution is successful and the judgment for them is enforceable against the defendant, but, as the county can only be indemnified for its costs by the collection of such judgment through its officers, and as they, haven’t already been paid their fees, are apt to forget its existence, the judgment is allowed to become dormant or fall into “innocuous desuetude.” Another fault of our system, which is the cause of much expense, comes from multiplying hearing or trials. Before a defendant can have a trial which is to determine his guilt or innocence, hi much pass through three stages of examination or trial --- first, there is the preliminary hearing before the justice of the peace, who, if he finds evidence of the probable guild, binds the accused over to the court; second, the hearing before the grand jury; and, if they find a “true bill,” then comes, third, his final trial in the criminal court. Nothing short of a radical reform in our system of criminal costs can furnish the relief demanded; how to accomplish this result is the question. I would recommend that a joint committee of three or five persons be appointed, composed of men able and competent to examine the laws of other states such as Georgia and some others, where important reforms have been effected, greatly decreasing the expense of costs in criminal cases, to report what changes, if any, are needed in our system, or report a bill making such changes as will furnish the desired relief.
BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND LEGISLATIVE APPOINTMENTS TO OFFICE
Our scheme of government contemplates a division of powers into three great departments, known as the legislative, executive and judicial. It is intended that these departments shall be separate and independent in the exercise of their functions, and any infraction of the principle which confines each to its own appropriate sphere of action, is inconsistent wit the spirit of our institutions, and an encroachment on the prerogative of the department affected by it. More over, where this division of power and responsibility is strictly maintained, no department interfering with the action of any other, but each moving in the circle of its activity in conformity with the general design, there can be no confusion of authority, and every department will be answerable for the conduct of its own affairs. But while these departments act independently, and exercise different functions, in subordination to the general plan, they constitute one government, whose strength and symmetry lies in the preservation intact of this division of power and responsibility. Hence, any action of one department in assuming duties that belong to another, or in transferring to some board or commission duties that belong to one of the other departments, whether sanctioned by custom or otherwise, is a usurpation which is inexcusable, and ought to be summarily condemned. This confusion of authority, too, has the tendency to divide responsibility, which, experience has proven, is inimical to good government.
At the present time there are several boards, composed of the executive, the secretary of state and the state treasurer, or of the two former and the superintendent of public instruction, who are invested with authority to appoint superintendents to the supervision of such boards, manage these institutions and administer their affairs. These boards are known as the trustees of the asylum, of the reform school, of the deaf-mute school, of the blind school, etc. The boards are invested with the power of appointing superintendents (who cannot appoint their subordinates without the board’s consent), and of making rules and regulations for the government and management of the affairs of the institutions not inconsistent with out laws. In effect, the board administers the law regulating the management of such institutions through the superintendents, when the full responsibility of the administration of their affairs under the law ought to belong on the superintendents, subject to such supervision by the governor as may be embraced in his constitutional duty “to take care that the laws bow faithfully executed.” Every officer, in discharging his duties under a law, is its administrator, Upon him ought to rest the full responsibility for the faithful discharge of his duties and the economical management of the institution committed to his charge. There can then be no bandying of responsibility between him and the board. The superintendent will be personally accountable for his conduct in the discharge of his trust. He will be rid of the idiosyncrasies of three members of a board, which is always impossible of performance; for, it is a scriptural saying that a man cannot serve two masters; ergo, he cannot serve three. The truth is, divided authority is inimical to economic and responsible government. Not is there public need of such boards, which fact, of itself, should be sufficient to demand their abolition. There is no place in the scheme of our government for their existence. The legislature has no authority to create boards and invest them with authority to appoint public officers to discharge important duties that concern state affairs. The power to appoint belongs to the executive department, or to the people, by election. The legislature has no legal right to exercise such power, much less to delegate it to a board or commission. It goes to the full extent of its powers, when it provides by law for the election of officers by the people or their appointment by the governor, as may be deemed best, when not prescribed by the constitution, and to declare their duties and responsibility in the conduct and management of such institutions. It is on this principle that the superintendent of the penitentiary is appointed and discharges the duties of his office. He directs, manages, and superintends the affairs of the penitentiary on the same principle that of the officers discharge the duties of their office. He appoints his subordinates, who are subject to his direction and authority. The responsibility of managing the institution economically and effectively devolves upon whom, subject to the supervision of the executive. What possible use, then, can there be for a board? There is none. A board is a mischievous administrative instrumentality, because its effect is to divide responsibility, destroy the symmetry of our governmental system, trench on the prerogatives of the executive, and injuriously affect the management of the institutions.
However, a board composed of three, or even six members, authorized to inquire from time to time into the condition and management of state institutions, and the treatment of their inmates, and to report the result of their investigations to the executive for his information, with such suggestions for the improving of affairs of such institutions, and preventing abuses, as to them might seem desirable, would be a useful body, serving an excellent public purpose; but beyond the performance of some such duties, its powers ought not to be extended --- certainly not to be invested with authority to appoint superintendents or officers, and through them manage and control such institutions.
But, it has been said, the object in creating these boards was to increase the salary of the governor )and, likewise, of other state officers), the implication being that, to raise it directly an d commensurately with the duties and responsibilities of the executive office, would be unpopular and unconstitutional. The supposition is absurd. The passing of an act to effect indirectly an increase of the salary of an officer ought to be more unpopular that the passing of an acct which directly increases it. If the people will consent or submit that the increase should be effected through the agency of a board, t hey will not object that it should be accomplished by a direct increase of salary, which only affords him reasonable compensation for his services. Nor is the objection to an act directly increasing the salary of the governor of any constitutional weight. It is entirely within the constitutional province of the legislature to raise the salary to such sum as is just and proper in its judgment, and the best lawyers and judges – some of whom served in the convention that framed the constitution --- have expressed opinions on this subject with a unanimity that could not exist if there were any doubt of the constitutional power of the legislature to do so. It is not the salaries of officers than embarrass the operation of government, or burden the people with excessive taxation. It is “jobs,” wasteful practices, lavish and unnecessary public exsions, freebooting the treasury with fictitious claims and needless appropriations, that put an unjust burden upon the people, and serve to retard the growth, development and prosperity of the state. The state is entitled to honest, efficient and intelligent service, and no detriment comes to it, or disadvantage to its people, by awarding a high compensation for such service. Of course, if any officer sincerely believes that the salary in excess of the sum mentioned in the constitution is unconstitutional and void, as an honest man, under oath, he could not accept such salary without moral perjury and self-abasement. But, gentlemen, it is vastly more important that these boards be abolished, and thereby and end be put to a system that affords temptation to favoritism and opportunity for the existence of abuses, than that they should be continues as an excuse or justification for raising salaries of state officers indirectly.
THE offices of dairy commissioner and veterinary surgeon should be consolidated in one office, under the latter, at his present salary, and the domestic animal commission should be abolished. There should be one railroad commissioner at least, with a clerk, to guard the public interests, and a b board of equalization, composed of three members appointed by the governor, whose duties should be confined to equalizing the state taxes between the counties, leaving the matter of taxation for county purposes wholly to the counties.
Recurring to the mischievous effects of boards or commissions appointing officers for administrative duties, let me add that while the appointment of officers by the legislature is not so objectionable, it is nevertheless wrong in principle and of doubtful validity, though sanctioned by custom and sustained by some judicial precedents. The courts, as the cases will disclose, have sanctioned legislative appointments with reluctance, and under circumstances which furnish the explanation and justification of their decision. IN the late case of Eddy v. Kincaid, 28 Or. 559, where the question involved was the power of the legislature to appoint railroad commissioners, Chief Justice Bean said: “We feel constrained to hold the act constitutional, although, if the question was one of first impression, the court, as at present organized, might probably hold otherwise.” It was on account of the reasons and circumstances to which the chief justice alluded, and the hesitation which a judge always feels in declaring an act of the legislature unconstitutional, that the court was induced to uphold the act and thus sanction legislative appointments to office. That the court felt such appointments to be of doubtful constitutional propriety, as an original question, is emphatically announced, and it must be conclusively inferred that the court felt that all laws authorizing the legislature to exercise such function ought to be repealed. How much more objectionable, t hen, is the delegation of such power to a board. The truth is, the power to appoint to office, when not lodged in the people, belongs to the executive. At is a prerogative of this office, and needs no express declaration in the constitution to establish it. The legislature ought not to make any appointments, except of officers of its own body. The logical consequence to which the exercise of the power by the legislature may be carried furnishes the strongest argument for its abolition. For, if it be a legislative function, then there is no limit to the power of the legislature to select officers, or to create offices and fill them, when required for the public service, except such officers as derive their title from the constitution. Upon this theory, the legislature may absorb all power to appoint officers for the public service, or to manage the state institutions, except the few named in the constitution., Instead of appointing, as now, the pilot commissioners, the state librarian, the food commissioner, etc., the legislature could extend the list by appointing superintendents of the penitentiary, the asylum, the reform school, and others, when required for the public service. Such a grant of power to the legislature was never contemplated by our constitution, and is inconsistent with its spirit and latter, and the further exercise of it ought to be stopped at once and vested where it properly belongs, either in the people or in their executive. Such a change would be of incalculable importance to the members of this legislature. Your every step would not be hounded by the persistent office seeker; much of your time would be saved for legislative service, which is your legitimate duty; vote trading , and combinations to assist political friends or pay off political debts, would come to an end; you would find yourselves in the possession of the disposition, and the opportunity, to perform your legislative duties with fidelity and deliberation, which, I hope, would include the adoption of the reforms already suggested, which I confidently believe, when enacted into law, would be so pregnant with public benefits as would embalm the member of this legislature in the hears to grateful constituency.
The custom of including appropriations of the public moneys for every conceivable purpose, g general and special, in one bill, is thoroughly bad, and ought to be stopped. There are certain fixed charges, such as salaries of officers and liabilities created for the support of state institutions, usually known as current expenses, for which specific appropriations may be embodied in one appropriation bill; but in all other cases, a bill ought not to include appropriations for more than one object. By this method --- a method I recommended in my inaugural --- every appropriation must stand or fall upon its own merits. This would afford the executive an opportunity to interpose any objection that he may have to a appropriation, without delaying the passage of appropriations that are not objectionable and meritorious, and thus put in practice that wise principle incorporated in the constitution of some states, which allows the executed to veto specific items in the general appropriation bill. In aid of this principle, I suggest that the committee on ways and means adopt a resolution in effect refusing to embody any item in the general appropriation bill that does not properly belong to the current expense account of the state, and requiring all appropriations for specific objects to be carried in separate bills, Under the practice which has prevailed in this state of including appropriations for every conceivable purpose in one bill, and delaying its introduction until the expiring hours of the session, when there is no time for the members to examined it carefully, or for the executive to exercise his power of veto without defeating the whole appropriation bill, lavish and unnecessary appropriations have been secured and the interests of the people disregarded. To illustrate: At the session of 1895, the general appropriation bill, covering over a million of dollars, for many and various items, was presented to be for my signature during the last hour of the expiring session, being between 11 and 12 o’clock, Saturday night. The alternative was presented to me of approving the bill as a while, notwithstanding it contained many items of an objectionable character, as well as of doubtful validity, or vetoing it and leaving the state without appropriations for the two ensuing years, unless I called an session. I did not want to sign the bill, for I had denounced this method of forcing the executive, in my inaugural, but I had no time to think, or for conference; I was not familiar with executive duties, nor with its surroundings, and, under protest, I yielded my assent out of an overweening respect for precedent and dread of a condition of affairs which might necessitate an extra session, which is always a doubtful experiment. What I ought to have done is this: I ought to have vetoed that bill in three lines, and returned it with the veto to both houses before their adjournment, and at the same time notified them that I should issue a proclamation convening them in extra session the following Monday, for the purpose of appropriation funds to defray the current expenses of the state, and disposing of such matters was were left over or needed their attention.
Gentlemen, I repeat that bills for the appropriation of public moneys should be submitted to you body a sufficient length of time before the end of the session, to afford ample time for their scrutiny and for the exclusion of all unnecessary expense; and that the practice of delaying their introduction until the last hours of the session, when the members have no time carefully to examined the items, for the executive to exercise his veto, without defeating needed appropriations, is thoroughly vicious and a fraud upon the public service. In this way unnecessary appropriations are secured, lavish public expenditures are encouraged, and the interests of the people are disregarded. Nor should you give you assent to an appropriation, though its object be worthy, that is not essential to the public service and the necessity for which is not clearly shown to you satisfaction. The practice of distributing the public money to various institutions of a private character, or, at least not under state control, nor responsible to the state for the manner of its expenditure --- meritorious as may be the objects of such institutions --- is an inducement to multiply their number and encourage every imaginable scheme for obtaining funds from the public treasury. Where appropriations for such purposes are permitted to pass unchallenged, there will always be the temptation to organize various enterprises, as institutions of the quasi-public character, and fasten them on the body politic, to secure appropriations for stimulating local interests or booming speculative projects. All such appropriations are wrong in principle, and ought to be discontinued. Not a dollar of the public funds should be appropriated for the support of any institution not accountable to the state and organized to serve the public interests. Not a dollar should be appropriated even for the support of public institutions whose existence and maintenance are essential to the public welfare, until the necessity of the appropriation asked is made plain, and its amount is clearly shown to be indispensable to the general welfare. Adopt this rule, and apply it to the purposes for which you are asked to make appropriations, and there will be no funds to use for lavish expenditures or to support wasteful and extravagant practices; and, from the necessity of the case, economy and good business management will pervade every department of the state and its institutions.
To reach this desirable condition of affairs, there is no way so direct and efficient as the limitation of appropriations to the actual needs shown to exist and the denial of appropriations for deficiencies, unless caused by some unexpected emergency, or a plain showing that the amount appropriated was insufficient for actual and necessary expenses. The custom or habit of allowing deficiencies to occur, in the expectation that the legislature will, without inquiry, and as a matter of course, make appropriations to cover them, ought to receive a good, hard bump against the bedrock of legislative economy and good sense; and another custom, thought lately to be in vogue, of devising schemes to expend an appropriation when its legitimate uses would leave a surplus to lapse in the treasury, is still worse, and deserves the severest reprehension.
When the legislature shall take any effective mode to ascertain how many persons are employed in a department or institution, the salaries or wages paid its officers and employees, the nature and amount of work performed by then, the kind and quantity of food consumed, the methods of procuring supplies, the extent and variety of purchases, the expense of growing grain or stock, the means for economizing food, clothing, fuel and drugs, and carefully scrutinize all matters and things connected with the support and expenditures of such department or institution, as same, you will then get the bottom of their needs and be prepared to estimate their expenses and the amount of appropriation necessary for their support and maintenance. This kind of scrutiny is always beneficial to the public service. It tends to week out the incompetent or corrupt official and reward the capable and honest. An upright official stands in no dread of a rigid scrutiny of his affairs. If any of our heads of department or superintendents of institutions, have pursues vicious methods in doing the public business, or have been guilty or reckless expenditures, let them be exposed; but, on the other hand, if they have discharged their duties with fidelity and economy, give them the credit due in faithful public servant. I believe and assert, taken as a whole, the administration of these officers in their respective spheres of duty has in general been economical and honorable; that expenses have been in the main curtailed; that the public service in many respects has been considerably improved, and that the public interests have been steadily guarded and maintained. For them, I challenge the most searching inquiry that you any institute. ˆ assert that the stand in no dread of you or your power to investigate the truth, and I say that they despise, as every honest man should despise, the perfunctory or “fixed” committee, constituted to gloss ugly facts and manufacture fraudulent reputations for dishonest, worthless or incompetent officials.
Gentlemen, as representatives of the people, it is your prerogative to enact legislation that shall better our laws, promote our growth and development and advance the cause of civilization and good government. My duty of cooperation with you in this laudable and needful work now comes to an end, but I doubt not that my successor is ready to join with you in a resolute effort to reduce expenses and lighten the burden of taxation; to promote reforms and protect the public interests.
Profoundly grateful for many honors bestowed, and deeply sensible of aspirations not fully realized for bettering economic conditions in my state and enhancing the well-being of its people, I now surrender the high trust confided to me by their partiality, sustained by the consoling reflection that --- whatever may have been my shortcomings --- my constant aim has been to administer its powers on the side of right and justice, of law and public order, for safeguarding personal liberty and protecting the right of private property, in furtherance of educational progress and general enlightenment, for bettering social conditions and promoting economic reforms, in extirpating abuses and encouraging a high standard of public duty, for advancing the interests of my state and the happiness of its people.
WM. P. LORD