Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

The interest upon the entire amount of this debt has been promptly paid as the same fell due.

It will devolve upon you to provide for the payment of that portion of the principal falling due in January, 1863, and I doubt not you will meet this responsiblity with firmness and wisdom. The honor and credit of the State require that all her just liabilities should be promptly met. It is of no consequence when or by what political party this debt was contracted. We find the obligation existing against us, and the only legitimate inquiry that can in justice or honor present itself, is as to the best and most feasible method of cancelling it. There are but two ways by which this can be accomplished. First, by leveying a direct tax upon the whole taxable property of the State, sufficiently large to meet the liability at its maturity. Secondly, by a reissue of Bonds, or in other words, contracting a new debt to take the place of the old. Were it not for the large amount of this indebtedness, it would, in my judgment, be far better for the State to meet it at its maturity by a direct tax, than to reissue the Bonds, and thereby defer the day of payment. Renewing an obligation never pays it. We may put off the day of payment for a series of years, but at last it must be met with all its accumulated interest. We complain of those who contracted this debt because they neglected to make provision for its payment, and we should be careful not to give our children the same cause of complaint against us, as they certainly would have if we should renew the indebtedness without at the same time making ample provision for its final payment. I would advise the renewal of this indebtedness by the reissue of Bonds payable in twenty years, drawing a rate of interest not exceeding six per cent. per annum, and for the ultimate payment of the principal of these new Bonds, I would create a sinking fund by annual taxation, of not less than twenty-five thousand dollars the first year, increasing the amount by annually adding fourteen per cent. to the sum raised the previous year. Such a fund, at the expiration of twenty years, would wholly extinguish the principal of our State indebtedness. The interest

should also be met by direct taxation, if necessary, as provided for in the Constitution. The Constitution provides as follows: “The Legislature shall provide by law a sinking fund of at least twenty thousand dollars a year, to commence in eighteen hundred and fifty-two, with compound interest at the rate of six per cent. per annum, and an annual increase of at least five per cent. to be applied solely to the payment and extinguishment of the principal of the State debt other than the amounts due to educational funds, and shall be continued until the extinguish. ment thereof." This provision of the organic law has thus far remained a dead letter. No step has ever been taken by any Legislature to comply with it. By creating a sinking fund as contemplated by the Constitution, the gradual extinguishment of our State debt will be brought about, and the burden of taxation lightly felt. This fund can be created only by taxation, but a tax of twenty-five thousand dollars and compounded at fourteen per cent. per annum thereafter, is a small sum of money to be raised in view of the population and wealth of our State, yet even this sum, if set apart and exclusively devoted to the payment of the principal of the renewed indebtedness, would obliterate the whole of it at the expiration of twenty years. I know it is impolitic for a State to accumulate money in her Treasury by taxation, and allow the same to remain idle, which at first view might seem to be the case with a sinking fund. This difficulty could be obviated by authorizing the Treasurer to use the money thus accumulated in the payment of the renewed Bonds whenever they could be purchased at or below par, or by making the Bonds themselves payable at or before the expiration of twenty years, at the option of the State. I am aware that Bonds thus payable would not bring as high a price in market, as if payable at a definite time, but in my judgment this difference in their market value would be more than conpensated by the privilege of annually applying this found towards the extinguishment of the debt, and thereby stopping the accumulation of interest. Before another Legis · lature can take action in the premises the most of this debt will.

bare matured. The credit of the State stands high, and no citizen of Michigan would wish to see it lowered by a failure to meet promptly all her just liabilities. You owe it to yourselves, as well as to the people you represent, to take some final action by which we can all see that this debt is soon to be paid.

The State is fast increasing in wealth and population, and the taxation necessary to create such a fund would scarcely be felt.

STATE PRISON.

The annual reports of the officers of the State Prison for the years 1859 and 1860, show the financial affairs of that Institution to be in a flourishing condition. It appears from the report of the Agent of the Prison for the year 1859, that the carnings of that Institution, during the last ten months of the fiscal year ending November 30th, 1859, exceeded the expenses for the support of the convicts for the same period of time, by nine hundred and thirty-two dollars and ninety-eight cents, and the report of the game officer for the year 1860, shows that its earnings for the past year exceeded its ordinary expenses by five thousand one hundred and seventy-nine dollars and thirty-three cents. Thus has the State Prison, for the past twenty-two months, actually brought into the Treasury, over and above its ordinary expenses, the sum of six thousand one hundred and twelve dollars and thirty-one cents, and it is confidently believed that by proper and judicious management, this Institution will hereafter be able to meet its ordinary expenses from its own resources. I believe there is no other similar institution in the United States that is self-sustaining, and this is the first time in the history of our own State, that our Prison has paid its way. This is wholly owing to the fidelity and ability of its officers, who have been indefatigable in their endeavors to make our Prison a model institution of its kind.

At the meeting of the Legislature, in 1859, four hundred and seventy-three convicts were confined in the State Prison, of which number twenty-four were in solitary cells for willful and deliberate murder. It pains me to inform you, that since that time, this number has greatly increased. There are now confined in the Prison, six hundred and twenty-one convicts, out of which number twenty-two are in solitary confinement for murder in the first degree.

In my message of January, 1858, I made use of the following language: "Let crime continue to increase in our State for the next three years in the same ratio, as in the past, and our Prison at the end of that period will be full to its utmost capacity."

One more year

and our Prison will be full. True, we may go on enlarging it, but I doubt the policy of making further appropriations for that purpose. The Legislature, in 1859, made an appropriation of twenty-seven thousand five hundred dollars, principally for constructing two hundred and fifty cells in the east wing of the Prison. The Act making the appropriation continued the office of Building Commissioner, (created by the Legislature of 1855,) for the period of two years from and after February 15th, 1859. By the different acts of legislation it became the duty of this officer to see that the appropriations upon the Prison were properly expended in the manner contemplated by law. The condition of our State finances was such that it became impracticable to pay any considerable portion of this appropriation until after the receipt of the taxes of 1859. I therefore delayed making the appointment of a “Building Commissioner" until in February, 1860, thereby saving to the State the amount of one years' salary of that officer, being nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars. The two hundred and fifty cells have been completed, and a portion of them are now occupied. The Prison can now accommodate six hundred and ninety-two convicts. This is its utmost capacity.

The experience of officers of similar institutions throughout our sister States, proves the impolicy of confining, at one time, more than from six to eight hundred convicts in one Prison. One set of officers cannot well manage more than that number, and pay any regard to the great object of punishment, or to the economy and prudent management of the Institution. I recommend that you take immediate measures towards build

ing a new Prison. The State will need it before it can be got ready for use. I would locate it at the Capital, or somewhere upon the line of the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad, leaving its definite locality to be fixed by commissioners appointed for that purpose, clothed with power to receive gifts of a suitable site, and building materials for the work. It is important that its locality should be accessible by railway. The amount of the appropriation necessary to begin such a work will depend much upon the plan that may be adopted, but under no circumstances would I involve the State in debt, either for a new Prison or for any other necessary work. In every instance where it becomes necessary and proper to make an appropriation, it should be made fearlessly, and as a matter of duty at the same time a tax should be levied upon the people sufficiently large to meet it.

Since I entered upon the duties of my office I have pardoned from the State Prison seventy-two convicts. Out of this number twenty-six have been recommended to executive clemency by the Judge who pronounced the sentence, and sixteen by the Prosecuting Attorney who officiated at the trial. In almost every instance the recipient of clemency, by his good conduct while in prison, merited the approbation and received the recommendation of the Agent or Chaplain. Whenever I could learn that the convict had been in the habit of indulging in intemperance, I imposed upon his pardon the condition that he should forever after abstain from the use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage. One, and one only, has since violated that condition, and for such violation is now serving out the balance of her term. Over two hundred and fifty applications for pardon have been made to me within the past two years, and from this large number I have selected such as I thought deserving. My information of the merits of each case necessarily had to be obtained from others, and it is not to be wondered at if in some instances I may have been imposed upon. Justice tempered with mercy is an attribute of the Deity, and the Executive who refuses to entertain an application for pardon because he is lia

« AnteriorContinuar »