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unpunished, except by the light penalty attached by the law to one o lower grade. I respectfully suggest that all bills, making large appropriations of money be passed by you at a period of the session early enough to enable me to return them to you with objections, if I have any to make; so that I shall not be obliged to consent to items not, in my judgment, proper, as the only means of avoiding the defeat of other just and necessary appropriations. The supply bill, as it is commonly called, has always been sent in for approval after the Legislature had adjourned, leaving me no alternative but to approve of it as a whole, or to let all the appropriations made therein go over, many of them being required at once for the support of the various departments of the government. The practice has grown up of inserting in this bill items of appropriations of money which have no proper connection with the general purposes of the bill as indicated in its title; many of which items, I am satisfied, would not, if proposed in separate bills, receive the sanction of the Legislature. This practice has become a great abuse. I recommend the immediate repeal of the general town bonding act. Without discussing the policy of this law, I suggest that aid has already been given to railroads, upon the credit of municipalities, to quite as great an extent as is wise, and, in some instances, to the oppression of tax-paying communities. Its early repeal is, in my judgment, important to the general welfare of our people.
EIGHT Hour LAw.
In 1870, what is commonly called the eight hour law was enacted by the Legislature and approved by me. It provided, among other things, that eight hours should constitute a legal day's work upon all the public works of the State, and that any public officer, who should violate or evade its provisions might be removed by the Governor, or by the heads of departments to which such officer was attached. By this act the Legislature intended to hold out the promise, on behalf of the State, to the laborers who might be employed on any public work, that they should receive a full day's wages, at current rates, for eight hours' work. The spirit of the promise has not been kept ; yet no case has arisen where a removal of a public officer could legally be made. The laborer understood the law to provide for a reduction of the hours, but not of the wages of labor. The State ought not, under the forms of law, to deceive any portion of its people. Its practice should be in accord with its professions. It demands a general obedience to its statutes, and should itself set the example of strict conformity with its own laws. While the law stands upon the statute book, the professions embodied in it should be made good by such amendments to it as will render the fulfillment of its purpose certain.
Under the provisions of a joint resolution of the Legislature passed April 25, 1870, I appointed David A. Wells, George W. Cuyler, and Edwin Dodge a commission “to revise the laws for the assessment and collection of taxes;” which commission, in the discharge of its duties, presented a report in February, 1871. The report was so important and exhaustive in its character, and so novel in its suggestions, that although I had supplied copies thereof to the Legislatures of the other States, and to municipal bodies in this country and in the British Provinces, yet, notwithstanding the very large editions issued by the State, the report
has been twice reprinted, at private cost, in order to meet the demand for it among the general public, to wit, once in this country and once in Europe; the latter reprint being issued, with a preface by the Secretary of the British Board of Trade, by an association of gentlemen for distribution among the people of Great Britain. In respect to personal property, the report of the commissioners shows that the whole amount thereof assessed and taxed is not as much as thirty per cent of the real estate assessment, or not in excess of the railroad and banking capital alone of the State; while the probable proportion of such property assessed to its true value is not more than fifteen per cent. The commissioners, furthermore, present a large amount of evidence tending to show that not only is such a result unavoidable under existing laws, but that the tendency of things (through recent court decisions, the offsetting of indebtedness against assets, and the exemption of the United States and other securities from taxation), is to become worse; and that at no distant day, the present system of taxation in this State will be brought down, practically, to an exclusive tax on real estate and bank capital. Another matter of great importance, to which the commissioners call attention, is the circumstance that during the last few years the legislation of contiguous States, in respect to local taxation, has been of a much more liberal character than that of New York; and that, in consequence, the interests of New York have suffered, and are likely to continue to suffer unless remedial or reciprocal legislation is provided. Thus, for example, the States of Maine and Vermont, and also the British Provinces which border upon New York, have either wholly, or for an extended period, exempted manufacturing industry from all taxation, The new territory of the }. of Columbia exempts all evidences of debt, that is, bonds, mortgages, negotiable instruments, etc.; the State of Maryland, all bonds and mortgages for the city and county of Baltimore; New Jersey, bonds and mortgages for a large part of her territory contiguous to New York; while Pennsylvania, proceeding much farther in this same direction, has exempted the machinery and capital or manufactures from local taxation, and, practically also in a great degree, her banking capital, evidences of debt, and all vessels engaged in foreign and domestic commerce. New York is soon likely to be forced, by considerations of self-interest and self-defense, into giving this whole subject of State taxation careful attention. The system recommended by the commissioners, and of which an outline code has been already submitted to the Legislature, is substantially as follows: First. To tax real estate in like manner as under existing laws; provisions for enforcing valuation according to a common and well defined but moderate standard being at the same time prescribed. It is understood that the commissioners favor the creation of an office, whose incumbent shall be especially charged with the enforcement of the laws relative to taxation, and be invested with all necessary powers for accomplishing such object, and insuring, so far as possible, equity and uniformity. Second. To tax moneyed corporations of the State in conformity with existing laws. Third. All experience, and especially the experience of New York, shows that the attempt to tax, directly, property other than such as is embraced under the two before enumerated classes, affords little revenue; it fails in execution, and is certain to yield less revenue in the future than in the past, and above all it discriminates against the industry of New York in comparison with other States. The commissioners propose as a substitute and equivalent for all such defective taxation, to taa: the occupier, be he owner or tenant, of any and every building used as a drelling, or for any other purpose, on a valuation of three times the rental or rental value of the premises occupied; but not including under such assessment, any land except such as the building stands on, or is . essential for access thereto. All property not embraced under one of these provisions, as above stated, is to be exempt from taxation. The principles on which the commissioners have founded this part of their system, are stated by them as follows: “That the market value of real estate is always proportional to and dependent on the amount of personal property, or rather productive capital, placed upon it, or in its immediate vicinity. “Only, therefore, as personal property or productive capital is brought in connection with real estate, does its value become appreciable and augment. “Applying, practically, to New York the proposed system for taxing personal property, through buildings or rentals, as its representative, the commissioners say, that examination will show that the aggregate of taxation, according to the new system, on the occupiers of buildings, will be the lowest in the most sparsely settled agricultural districts of the State. Property here is mainly in land, and the value of buildings is generally much less than the value of this land with which they are connected. As we leave the sparsely settled agricultural districts, and rise through the more densely populated portions of the State, from the towns to the villages, from the latter to the cities, and from the cities to the great metropolis of the continent, we shall find that the value of land, of buildings, and the aggregate of taxable valuation will increase as the amount and accumulation of personal property increases, until land and buildings attain their greatest market and tax valuation in Wall street, Broadway, and Fifth avenue, where the accumulation of personal property is the greatest. It is also to be observed that, starting at the bottom of the scale, with the value of land greatly in excess of the value of the buildings connected with the land, that this difference, as we progress upward through the more densely populated districts, gradually diminishes, until, as is the case very frequently in the cities, the value of the building greatly exceeds the value of the land in which it is situated. “And yet, while under the proposed system, the agricultural districts would, as how, pay the smallest proportion of the aggregate taxes, and the villages and cities as now also the largest, there would be no injustice; but, on the contrary, one uniform, equitable rule of valuation and assessment. “The sum of three times the rent or rental value is taken as the substitute for personal property, other than what is invested in the stocks of moneyed corporations, on the assumption that no person can occupy any building, who is not possessed of such property, at least to the extent of the valuation adopted; an assumption fully sustained by evidence and investigation.” The commissioners allege, in regard to their proposed new system, that, under the first and second provisions, nearly all the property now
subject to taxation will be embraced; and that, under the third provision, property additional, or rather ability to contribute to the expenses of the State, commensurate to the protection which the State accords to the person assessed, will be embraced to the extent of from five hundred to seven hundred millions; thus reducing the rate of taxation all over the State, and especially relieving the labor and capital invested in agricultural and manufacturing industries, and in shipping, which it ought to be the object of the State especially to favor. When the report of the commissioners was presented in February, 1871, it seemed to me and to the Legislature advisable that, on account of the novelty of the views presented, the consideration of the whole subject should be postponed for another year in order to allow of the fullest discussion and consideration on the part of the public, and pending all action the Legislature instructed and authorized the commissioners to prepare a code in accordance with their recommendations. This code, with a further report, will be ready at an early period of the present session, and I should fail in my duty if I did not ask for it in advance the most careful consideration from both the Legislature and the people.
The subject of the regulation and control of processions in public streets has been made one of special interest by unhappy occurrences in the city of New York in July last. The occupation of the public streets by bodies of men for the purpose of civic as well as military processions has been permitted under a custom so long established that it has come to be looked upon as a common right. The local police must have, of course, great discretionary power in the matter of regulating such processions. It has been the practice of New York city to afford them protection by the presence and escort of part of the police force, without reference to the occurrences which the demonstrations were designed to celebrate, or to the race, color or sentiments, political or religious, of those engaged in them. Our respective political parties have been in the habit, on the eve of an election, of getting up such demonstrations, not only in New York but throughout the country, with banners and mottoes indicative of their own views and not unfrequently reflecting with severity upon those of their opponents; all of which are looked upon, usually, by the by-standers of either party, in good humor and perfect toleration. Noted events in our own history have been commemorated by great public demonstrations in the streets, and, in like manner, men of foreign birth or descent, have celebrated occurrences remarkable in the civil, military or religious record of the country from which they sprang, or of the faith and church in which which they and their fathers were educated. This right of procession has been considered to be established by custom as firmly as the right of free discussion and as is the right of the people “peaceably to assemble” by the Constitution of the United States, and may be regarded, in some sense, as a practical exercise of those rights.
A procession had been proposed for the 12th of July last, to which objection was made by persons holding views adverse to those to be celebrated, and they resolved to prevent it by violence, if necessary. Opponents of the first proposed procession organized another for the same day, with substantially the same line of march. The police of the city, deeming it almost certain that a serious breach of the peace would ensue, and in order to prevent it, forbade both of the proposed demonstrations.
The order forbiding the processions was not submitted to me by the police commissioners, for consideration or approval, nor did they ask my advice upon the subject. The order was made by them in the exercise of their exclusive discretion and lawful power, and it was not my lawful right, on my own motion, to interfere with that discretion. On the afternoon of the day on which the order was issued and published, which was the day before that proposed for the processions, I received, while at the capital, information that the local authorities thought my presence in the city was desirable. I repaired thither, immediately, and advised that the police order be revoked. I was satisfied that it would be generally regarded as having been made by those in authority in submission to the demand and dictation of those who were not, and as subyersive of the equal rights of men of all races, creeds and sentiments to protection, and would tend to permanent strife and bitterness, and to the disturbance of the peace of the State, perhaps, for many years to come. In deference to my advice, the order was revoked by the same authority which had issued it. My duty, then, was plain, to wit, to sustain, by the whole power of the State, the local authorities in repressing threatened .disturbances, and by so doing, to assert the equal rights of all citizens. The loss of life that ensued from the use of military force is a matter for great regret. It is clear, however, that whatever may be the cost, the rights and privileges of all classes of men must be alike protected, or none are safc; and that the prohibition of a procession representing one class of sentiment to-day, upon the demand of its opponents, or otherwise, would be taken as a precedent for interference, on another occasion, with one representing the opposite views, to the constantly recurring disturbance of the public peace, and to the abridgment of the privileges of all. I snbmit to your judgment, whether any new provisions of law are required regulating this matter of street processions and public demonstrations, which, good temper being preserved, have, heretofore, been harmless recreations for those engaged in them and for great numbers of lookers-on. Whatever laws you may pass on the subject should secure equal privileges to all men of whatever religion, of whatever polities, of whatever race, color, or creed.
UNITED STATES SENATORS. I recommend that you pass a joint resolution respecting the Senators and Representatives from this State in the Congress of the United States to use their efforts to have the following amendment to the Constitution of the United States proposed by the Congress, to wit:
“ After the adoption of this amendment, Senators from each State shall be chosen by ihe people of the several States, and not by the Legislatures thereof; whenever the term of a Senator is about to expire, his successor shall be chosen by the people of bis State at the general election for members of the House of Representatives in such State, occurring next previous to the expiration of such term; and whenever a vacancy shall happen, otherwise than by expiration of term, such vacancy shall be filled at the first general election for members of the House of Representatives which shall take place in the State in whose representation in the Senate a vacancy shall have happened, not less than three months after the vacancy shall have occurred, and in the meantime the Governor of the State may make a temporary appointment of Senator until the expiration of one month after the election at which the vacancy shall be permanently filled.”