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In this estimate, it is proper to state, that the sum of $141,638,72 is included, as necessary to meet arrearages, arising from the erection of Penitentiary buildings and support of convicts during the past and present year, also the sum necessary to be applied toward the erection of a Lunatic Asylum, and the completion of a portion of the buildings designed, and the support of, the Institutions established, for the education of the Blind, and Deaf and Dumb.
To meet the foregoing liabilities, the resources are stated as follows, viz: State Tax as levied and equalized under the act of 1854, $225,000,00 Bank Tax, (estimated)
30,000,00 Rail and Plank Road Tax, ( do )
9,0 0,00 Miscellaneous Resources, ( do )
Total, $288,829,91 Among the matters of interest presented by this Report, is a brief review of the public expenditures, since the admission of Wisconsin into the Union-showing the yearly appropriations therefor, from 1848 to 1854, inclusive--amounting in the aggregate, to the sum of $830,244,30; of which $94,071,31 was in the years of 1848–9; $71,675,38 in 1850; $112,420,80 in 1851; $123,474,06 in 1852; $163,910,58 in 1853, and $264,692,07 in 1854. Of the last named sum, appearing under the head of expenses for 1854, $63,696.03 was for the expenses of other years; so that the actual expenses, for the objects of 1854, were $200,996,04, inclusive of such as are provided for by permanent provisions—thus only exhibiting that 'annual increase in public expenses, consequent upon the organization and progress of a new state, and growing in a great measure out of the necessary expenditures in providing Penitentiary and other public buildings, and the establishment of charitable institutions. While, from the foregoing, it would appear that the expenses for the year 1854, were between thirty and forty thousand dollars more than for any previous year, yet the aggregate, for general purposes, for that year, was evidently some forty thousand dollars less than for 1853. This is accounted for by the fact that upwards of $80,000 more than in any previous year for such purposes, was appropriated for the erection of a State Prison, Lunatic, Deaf and Dumb, and Blind Asylums—including the moderate appropriations made for the benefit of the State Agricultural and Historical Societies; all of which did then, as they do now, appear to be just and worthy objects of Legislative favor; and some of which, at least, must continue to be objects of that character and destined to create no smll proportion of the public expenses, unless other provisions than at present exist, are made for their defrayal.
With the suggestions of the Secretary, in relation to existing laws, on the subjects of the registration of marriages, births and deaths--foreign insurance agencies—the judiciary fund—the fixing of a penalty in the event of a failure of Town Assessors to make return, and the publication of the election laws, I most fully concur. His exibit, however, of the expense heretofore incurred by the Legislature, for newspapers and postage, is worthy of more than a passing notice at this time; and can but impress you with the importance of a reform, in respect to these matters. It appears that the expense for those two items alone, has for several years, averaged nearly ten thousand dollars annually-a very large proportion of which, I have ever regarded as unnecessary and unwarrantable in its character, and should be reduced and confined to such sum, as the legitimate objects of legislation may properly demand.
The report of the Board of Commissioners of School and University Lands, has been elaborately prepared, and comprises much of interest, connected with the responsible trust committed to their charge.
It appears that the aggregate principal of the School fund, amounted on the first day of January, to the sum of $1,670,258 77 -being an increase, during the past year, of $528,454 49; derived chiefly from the sale of lands. The gross amount of interest, received since the last apportionment made to common
schools, including the sum payable prior to the tenth day of March next, (that being the time fixed by law for the annual distribution) is $142,434 29; which, according to the estimate of the State Superintendant of Schools, is equal to 93 cents for each scholar-an increase of 21 cents over the previous year.
The claim of the State to the quantity unselected of the 500,000 acre grant, amounting to about 125,000 acres, belonging to the School fund, and heretofore denied by the General Government, upon the ground that there was an arrearage due the Government from the State, arising from the connection of the Territory with the Rock River Canal, has, during the past year, been amicably adjusted, upon terms entirely favorable to the State; and the lands thereby accruing, have been chiefly selected. It seems highly probable that a like favorable adjustment will be had, of our claim to the five per centum of the nett proceeds, arising from the sales of Government lands, to which the State is entitled-amounting at this time, it is supposed, to about $60,000; and withheld by the Government, for the same cause ; as will more fully appear from a statement of the facts of the case, and the argument of the matter, which will be laid before you. Considerable additions have been made to this fund, during the past year, arising from fines collected by agents appointed for that purposé, under an act authorizing the same—a large proportion of which, it is believed, never would have reached the Treasury, except through the operation of some similar enactment. A defect in the law, however, it is said, has in some instances, been made an excuse for not paying; to the correction of which, your attention is invited. The rapid increase of this fund, exceeding so greatly the early anticipations formed in regard to it, affords cheering evidence of its ultimate sufficiency, for the purpose intended. To know that the means of obtaining a common school education, are within the reach of all, is a source of just pride and congratulation, and should prompt us to protect them by the erection of such safegnards, as the interests and well being of posterity demand. Under an act of the Legislature of 1854, requiring the commissioners and Governor to revise the
mode of keeping the School and University acconnts and records, important improvements bave been made, and the work contem plated by said act, is rapidly progressing. In order, however, to ensure the continuance of this, a more permanent provision for the expenses, than at present exists, should be made therefor, at the present session; and I can conceive of no just canse why such expenses should not be paid from the fund, for which they are incurred.
As the law now is, in cases where the interest due upon School and University Lands purchased has not been promptly paid on the day it became due, there have been a number of instances where the lands thus forfeited have been entered by others; and upon their making the payments required, the original purchasers have been deprived of all of their rights in the property. This, in many instances, is calculated to work extreme hardship to those who, through ignorance or accident, fail to pay the interest due
upon the day fixed; and some provision should be made, either for extending the time after advertisement, or giving the parties concerned such reasonable equity of redemption as will enable them to retain their lands, if they wish so to do. In this connection, and with a view of subserveing the best interests of the State, without prejudice to the fund, I submit to you the propriety of providing a reasonable limit to the quantity of School and University land which any one individual may hereafter purchase; and, as far as practicable, insure the occupation of the same to actual settlers. This I deem to be the best policy to be pursued on the part of the State, and by the encouragement thus rendered to a class of citizens whose principal resources consist in their energy and industry, the fund may be advantaged to as great a degree as under the present system; and the State at large will be benefitted to an extent, which the practice of monopolizing large tracts, by a few individuals, has a tendency to prevent. The only class whose interests such action will have a detrimental effect upon, is one composed of speculators merely, and who are not the tillers of the soil. An instance of such
attempted monopoly occurred during the year 1853, when a few parties combined, and bought in connection, upwards of 130,000 acres; and also during the last year, a single individual purchaser appears upon the books of the department as the proprietor of nearly 60,000 acres; and in sundry other instances, similar operations, on a smaller scale, have occurred. If, without detracting from the proper fund, and the income arisiug therefrom, this growing evil can be prevented, I deem it to be your duty to provide the same by such enactments as are best calculated to ensure the desired result.
I recommend to your especial notice, the very full and clear report of the State Superintendant, as exhibiting ample evidence that our common school system was well devised, and is now thoroughly organized; having, by its practical operations, demonstrated that the hopes early formed in regard to it, were not extravagant. The cause of education in this State, has manifested a degree of prosperity that furnishes us with good reason for rejoicing; and the degree of interest, not only exhibited, but felt by all in its advancement and permanent establishment, affords strong testimony of its continuance and value. The various institutions of learning, established in different parts of the State, and not assisted from any fund over which it has the charge, are all as flourishing and prosperous as we could, at this early day, have any reason to hope they might be. We have cause to be proud of the fact that so many of them, conducted as they are by able and learned men, have already been reared in our cities and villages, and are spreading widely their beneficial influence. The second dormitory building of the State University is now nearly completed, and will be ready for the reception of students by the first day of June. It affords me pleasure to state that this valuable institution continues to increase its influence and usefulness, and is steadily progressing in all of its departments. The report of the Board of Regents, which has not yet been received, but which will in a short time be laid before you, will exhibit particularly all matters of interest connected with the University, and will