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Gov. Croswell's Message

Gov. Croswell's Message image
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We y r.jaent below the main pointa of Gov. Oroewell's inaugural mesaage : Gentlemen of the Senate and the House of Repreaentativea: The populatlon and wealth of Michigan place her in the i rout rank of the States of the American Union. With great natural resources deyeloped by enterpripe and culture, with the neeessitiea of Hfe abundant, and Hb luxuries easily attainable, with a governrnent emanating from the people and resting upon their confldence f or support, with learnmg generally diffused, industry foBtered, and religión nc-ither fettered nor endowed, with the larj;est liberty for all conBistont with Bccunty for person and property, the State teems witli intelleotual and business activlty, and steadily advances in all the elements that constitute the highest civilization. Rcpresenting auch a conimonwealtli, jou have come from your homes and your oecupations at tho advent of the year, to frame new laws and modify old ones, to note such changes as time and the public welfare may Beem to require. I welcome yon to the Capitol, and am conndent that, with fidelity and faithfulness, you will give yonr best energies to the proper accompllshment of the important work devolved upon you. At suca a time it seems fitting and proper that wo shonld make devout acknowledgmefit of our grutitude to Almighty iod for the growth and proBperity of the State, the health and peace of the people, and the blesslngs, both public and private, whioh have been 80 freely vouchsafed to us. JTNAX0E8. The public debt oï the State ís comparaüvely light, and provisión is made tnrough the einkiüg fund for its extinguishment evonfasterthan it lalls due. Withln the past two years the debt bas been redneed $178,000, and repeated efforts have been made to purchase and retire more of the outstandiag bonds. The atterrtpt, however, has been i Bucoessful, the holders preferring not td part with the securittes even at a premium. This fact demouatrates the high credit which the State maintains at home and abroad. It also proves the wisdom of a well-constlluted sinkingfnnd- gathering staadily. and without pressure, means for the complete payment of the State debt. In this connection I desire to cali your attention to tbe fact that, by act of the Legislature of 1875, $46ri,828.40 was transferred from the finking futid to the general fund, and, in conBcquence, no taxation for tho current expenses of the State Government was levied for the yeavs 1875-G. As the amount thus withdrawn from tho sinking fund is nearly exuaueted, and as no f urther money can be diverted from that fund at the present time without a plain violation of the constitution, that instrument cxpressly applying the moneys now in such fund to the payment of the principal and interest of the State debt uutll the extinguishment thereof, it will be incrimbeñt on you to make provisión by taJiatión for the general eipenses of the State Governmont. I alludc to this also that yon may uuderstand that the reduction of taxes for two years past was simply teniporary and for the purpose of absorbing a surplus of i unappropriated moneyB that had accumulated in the pinking fund from legislation and not f rom constimtional requlrement. You will also observe that the receipts of the treaaury for the same time from sources other than taxes have been sensibly dlminished. This ie occasioned by a large faliing off in the Falca of public lands and to a considerable reducticn made by the Leg slature of two years ago in the epecific tax imposed upon foreign insurance companiea doing business in tbis State, as well as to the stringency of the times and to ether tinges. , Wh this diminution in revenuo and the necessary return to direct taxation for general purposes, it is plain that you Bhould exeic'se a strict economy in appropriaticna and avoid all extravagant and excessive expondituroB of the public money. Í nal schemes of any nature iuvolvmg large outlsys Bhould bc avoided, snrt the Stite, without nsrrowuess or parsimonyt should exemplify in every department such prudence as the Cif'cumstsnces of the times seem to demand. I am advi6cd that a large balanee now remains in the State Iroasury to the credit of certain special appropriatious berctofore made irom time to time by the Legislature for various objeots. Some of these appropriations were maae aeveral years ago, and the mency cöw on hand i's a remainder 1 ft after the object of the appioprlation had been accomplished and paid for. As the law now stands thia monty caanot be drawn from the treasury, not even for the objeet for wl ich it was dt Bigned, without some legislation for that purpofe. I therofore rocommand the passage of anact transferring this money where it may be maele available. I also suggest for your coneideration the propriety of enacting a law flxiog a t'me wben aopropnations of Ihis characti r, or any part thereof, if not drawn, ahall by duecourscof law bc trarceferrsd to the f und from whence they eime. A8SE38MENT AKB TAXAIIOS. THe coüititutidn prescribes a uniform rate of ifsessmeut and taxation on proporty at its cash valne. This appliesto all except suchas pajs a Bpeciñc tax or is exempted from taxatkn by law. The deBign of thiB provisión is clear and plain. It means that taxatin snall rest up n property equally, an-1 tbat all ehall bear its fair and just proportion of tho exppnse of carrying on the Goveroment. Ihe thecry is correct, but the practice does not conform to it. The inequality of asaessment is a common compïaint. Lands adjo:ning each othcr of about the same valué, but eituated in different o lunties, of ten are Usted for taxïticn on the appehsment ro'ls at rates not at all similar. There íb no preteneehat aüy property is a' s :s ied as (he cotiBtitution requires at its cash value. Go where ou pleaso about the State and you are informed that ARSess:ri asaess proporty for taxation at only about one-quarter or onc-tbird of its money value. I am advd tbat in some localities where real estáte has donbled and trebled the assessmenta frora year to ycar, iuotead of corresponding with the eiihanced pricfi, have actually been reduced, and the property rated for asseFament at a less auna thán it was previous to its rise. Personal pfopírty is eSsiíj' conota'.ed, and tho most of it escapes tafation. It ie estimated that not one-tenth of this. kind of property pays any taxeB whatever. In addition to thiPj our System of specific taxea has the effect to virtually release large property iutereats from nearly on ehaf of the amount they should pay, while exemption-i by law wholly r, - lfaso othcr classes of property from bearing sny part of the public burden whatever. The ï-CBult of it all is that property amouu ing to Jüiilions of dollars is partly or wholly relieved from taxation, and thus a great discrimination is made against that class of employments and indHbtrics whose effects are visible and taxable, and they, in conequerjce, pay very mnch more than their fair proportion of the public dnes. The rule of justioe and the fundamental law are both eet aside, and taxatiou is distributed most unequally and unfairlj. I am conscious that it is quite impossible to devise anysystom that will fully equüize the weijiht of tuis burden; I am also Bensiblc that we Bhould carofnlly guard against injudicous proceedings tending to Uriva capital from the State, but certaiuly some measures should be immediately inaugurated to better enf orco the provisiouB of the constitution and to correct this growing inequality. TAX 8AT-K8 AND TAX DEED8. I tui aleo of the cpioion that our laws for the Bale of lande delinquent for taxeB might, in mauy respecs, be pimpliiled and improvod. Now, if for auy causo non-rcsident land is returned as delinquent for oven a single tax, no matter how sinall it may bo, the State in one year advertises and s lis the land, and at the expiration of anotber year, if payment of the tax ia not made, issues a deed of the preniieea wiiich psrports to convey tbe trtle abBolutely to the purchastr. Tbouaands of these tax detils are made every year, and by far the larger proportion of theni when teated in the courts are set ustde and deolared void, They luake uocertain titles, breed litigation", aiul ottsn lead to expensive and vexatious suits. I submit to you wheiber some plan canuot be deviaed to remesly this system of flooding the State with uncen ain deeds of this cuaracter. A lien upon nucli lands in favor of the purebaser for the amount of the tax with a large rate of interest, with power throiiKh the oouris to enf orce the Hen byasaie of the premises afteralapee of sucha timo as would render it probable that the failure to pay was not tbe consequenee oí mere inadvertence or other like cause, it sooms to me, would be mnoh nioro j ust to all partiOB and save much of the work and exppnso iucident to our present aysteni. CONVEYANCK8 AND XHE RECOEDK THEP.F.OF. Youratttntion is alao requested to the laws regardinjï the couvejanci of lands and tne record of conveyances. No subject is moro important; the man o'f large means is often concerned to the cxteiit of all he poBJPBsi s, and the laboring man mny havo his littlo til invested in his home, tbc security t.f wbich dopende npon the protection these laws give Liin. ThHt Ihey are detective and afford great faeilitios for frauda 18 wel! knowu, and tbat scrious fraude are oflen oommitted by means of them is uotorious. ïho aoknowledgoment of quite too much a matter of form, and false personations take place before offleere, who certify to tlie ackuowledgmunts of parüeB they do not know. These dceds go upon record, and the record becomes primary evidence of conveyance, proving botb the ideutity of the grautor and the ofücial character of the oñicer. I sugnest whether an original might not be iu the recordiug office and be made a record of itself, as this would afford the means of detecting forgerie. If this were done, perhaps conveyances t-hould be xvquired to be executed in duplícate. In the same connection I suggest that tho propriety of a legislativo form for a conveyance, wbich should be short, and the effect of which a9 a warranty or otherwise should bü dtlermiued by law, might be considcred. If our deidi were Bkort anil uaiform, not only would the expenso of couviyauces and record bo reduced, bnt I am eonflden our recordB would be in much better and uiore reliable shapü than they now are. ind 1 dosire to have you consider carefully whether the records ought to be primary eviüeuoe at all. It is uol Buoh in numfl otates, but ia ovidence only whon the failure to produce the original is uatisfactoriJy explalned. ünder our system, i there ifl anything wrong or fuwpicious in a mwi's conveyance he ia interosted in not producing it, but may bring forward the record, in which the auspicious f acts do not appear. SPECIAL COMMISSION. I am aware that roodiflcations of much import ancfi, and of a radical nature, affect'ng lawB for the assessnient and collection oí taies, and lawB ior the execution and regietraüon of conveyancee onght to be made with great caee, ani only af ter much thoughtful investigation. Bearing in niind the time lmñted by custom for a seetion of the Leeislature and the pressure of business necesfarily incident to it, it eeeins to me doubtfnl whether you can give tnese eubjects, during your that careful inveetigation tliat thelr importanoe secms to demand. I thoreXore öuggest that they be referred to a special commission conBfsting of three men of ability and experience to careiully put in form and s'ubmit such ampndments and changes as may scem deBirable and wise, for the action of the Legislalnre hereaf ter. JUDICIAL CIRCUITS. The judicial circuits of the State onght at n early day to be reorganized with a better regard to population and territory, ana thns Beoure a more eqiial división In the labor of the Circuit JudgtB. èt present tlie work in some Circuits is hard and much greater ihan should be imposed npon a single Judge while in others it is llgJlt ana really less than it shoulft be. The fatlure of the people of the State at the recent election to voto an increaeed compensation to the Judgea is perhaps in a Eneasure aue tu a feeling tbat some of the circuits are much smaller than they really ought to be. C0W9TITUTIOKAL AMKNDMENT. One of the aroendments to the constitntion, adoptcd by the popular vote at the recent general election, authorizes the I.egislature hereatter to submit any propoRed amondments to that instrument to the people, to be voted upon at the spring electicn. This chango vill give opportunity for an expression of the popular will in regard to a proposed amendment while it is yet fresh irom the discussion and action of the Legislature. It will also, I approhend, conduce to a better understanding than heretofore of the merits of the proposition to be voted on. Such amendments, submitted at a general elecUon, are apt to be lost sight of in the hoat of partisan Firife. COMMON' KCHOOLS. It has been the cherished pollcy of thiü State to fumish facilities for the edneatio of every child within its bonndaries. The framers of the constitution provided for a syBtem of free schools, and their descendant have developed that policy unttl now ampie opportunity for a free oducation ia afforded to all vho may dosire to avail themselves of its benefits, not only in the common branches of learning, but also in the higher gradee of fluished and classical culture. With 6,000 common schools open an average seven months per year, maintained at a cost of $3,500,000, and 360,000 children in regular attendance, every citizen must feel that upon the infiuence of these schools restB in a great measure the future of the State. Whatever shall add to tUeir efficiency Bhall have my hearty approval. ÉLEiïTtÖWBi Under onr systom of government, iair and untrammeled suffrage is of vital importante. The whole direction of public affairs, the authority to mako or unmake laws, the interests of personB and of property, the very existenco of onr free institutions, all h'lnge upon the ireedom of the elector and the purity of the ballot-box. It is through the ballot that the sovereign will of the people is expressed, and every possible safeguard ehould be thrown around it to prevent tha use of corrupting infiuonces or the casting of illegal votes, in the heat and passion of great political exeitement, in the ambition for power and place, the inducement to secure success even by chicaneiy and fraud íb greai, and cannot be too strougly guarded against. More stringent measures thoukï be a'ïopted to prevent the bribing of electors and the corrupt use of money as a moaus for buying or influeucing votes. The proctiring of illegal votos, either by Solicitation or iLtimidation, ought to be vierted vvlth soverepunishinent, and more vigorous and effective laws slioul i be enacted to prevent the practico, now too frequent, of betting arge sums en the result of an election. It is well to reniember that in I former periods wherever such corruuting influences were permitted in a government of the people, violence, auarchy, and a deetruction of free instiiuüons foüowed! Our State eleclion laws are m mauy respecta detective and should receive your careiul attention. In tho registration of electors more time shoul.l intervene between the ösy of closing the registration and the day of electten. eo toat opportunity may be had to ascertain tho right to sufiraffe of auy doubtful names appearing on the list. Eiection boards saould be so organizad and constituted as not to ba couipoeed exclusively o( men of one political party ; it ia but fair and just that the opposite party have at least a representativo on tbe bari Provisions should also be made that persons who 'are caudidatea lor ofïice ühould not bo canvassers of the votes given for or agaiust themselves. They ure interested par. es who might be tempted for their own benefit int in'ustice and fraud. The law does not usually aliow men to pronrance jndgment in cases where they are directly concernes, and thcro shouïd certainly be no exception in asSertining and d'terminiug the reeult of hotly-contestea eiections whcre rivalry is great and prtjudice bitter Placf R for the vending and Bale of intoxicatmg liquors ought te be ciosed on the day of election. Whatever divirsity of views tliere may bo in regard to proMbitiOg or rentricting Iho liquor traihc genetalty, it seenís to leo thut do one will questien the propnety of making otir eiectlon as far as possible freo from its baneiul influen?9. It 18 a fact that intoxicating liquors are sold in tho ïmmediate vicinity of many of our voting places, and that men are to be seen aboul the polls exerciaing ths highest prerogative known to freemen partly or wholly intoxicated. These catCJ may not be nutaerous, yet the importance of our electicns and the general good of the community seem to demand that the surroundings shall be suca that the elector may exeroise tho most sober and delibérate indein'ont, Slost assuredly everythiog that tends to deprave aud torf upt th voter should be excluded from the vici"ity of {he JjSUf . LIQUOB LAWS. At the recent general election the provisión of the constitutiou prohibiting the Legislature from authorizing the grant of license for the sale of ardent spirits or oiher intoxicating liquors, by a voto of tho peoplo was stricken out, and f uil power ia now vestod in the Legislature to licensc, restrict, or prohibit th'S traüic, in such manner as it maydeem expedient and wite. The laws now in force upon this bUbiect were enacted by your immediate predecessors, and have been in operalion but a short time. Iu fact. hardly a sufücient time bas elapsed since thoir validity wai aflirmcd by the Supreine Court to give them a fair trial The sale oí intoxicating iiq.nors as a beverage is au evil of great magnitude, producing a large amount of wretchedness, pauperism and crime, and it should be kept under such giiards acd restrictions as will most effoctually prevent it I bad resulta. I do not believe that a license law would be any improvemont on tho preseot taxing system, nor do I believe that the people of the State by their recent vote, intended that the one fhould be abandoned fol' the other. I therefore, that bucq dofects as my bave been fouud in the work.ngs of tbe existing law le i remedied by amendment, and that it reinain in furee, to the end ihat its power to limit and lessen the evils of inteuipsraü'-'e may bo more fiüly and falrly tested. LtGIbLATION. jSl number of years' experitnee as a membev of tbe Legislaturo' satisfles me that too often important measures are postponed until a late perioi in the sesión, aud theñ crowded to a passage with undne haste. In this way crude, imperfect, and Bometimes dangerous legiplation takeB place, l therefore urge that you require your committeee 'iio Tisit the Slate iustitrtions to investígate them thoroiighly and at an early day, to the end that all the important measnres of the pession may be prepared anti considered with as little delay as may be consistent with a delibérate and preper nnderstanding thereoï. There is al"o a temïoccy t ) legislate too muuh. Stibility in our laws i3 desirable, aud changos should not be made without good and snüicient cause, lt is sometimes "better to bear the ills we have than to fly to thoBe we fenow not of." CONCLUSIÓN. And how, a" we enter upon the administraron of the duties whioh t)i3 people of the S1 ale have onioimil upon U8, let us remember that the iniprtance of the work demanda oiir bent service?. ve aro, for a brief period, at the licad of a popular Rovcrnment, whb e weifaro rests largely npon the iidolity of ite public servants. Vi'itn keen vigilanc?., thoroughly investígate fot yoursclves orr-ry subject of logiilalion. insist upou lionesty anti economy everj where in the Stalo cervico. Avoid the creation of unneeesBivry cfilces, and tho lavisli expouditure of mouey. Enart wholesome lav.-B to develop tho resources of the State aud build up lts institutionfl, and you will have diecliargcd your dutieB in a mantier worthy of reniembrance . I shall be happy to oo-operatê with you in all logielation which sha;l serve to accomuliBh these endo.


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