Page images

the interest on which, together with the interest on all sums received until May next, as well as all interest received from individuals, not heretofore distributed, will be apportioned among the several counties in May next. The receipts of the primary school fund for the last year are nearly double those of the year previous. The last Legislature appropriated from the primary school interest fund $3,000 00 for improvement on the school section at Lansing, $861 63 of which has been drawn at this date.

The total amount of receipts for the University Fund, aside from the $100,000 in bonds, is $22,608 29. The interest on this sum, after paying the amount overdrawn as stated below, as well as on all other sums hereafter received on account of principal, and the interest received from individuals, will be paid over to the Treasurer of the University as often as required. The university interest account is overdrawn to the amount of $1,114 98.

The Normal School Endowment Fund expenditures, have, for the last year, nearly kept pace with the receipts. These expenses have been chiefly for work and materials for the Normal School building at Ypsilanti, and for books and maps for the use of the School. The amount of Normal School interest money paid in is very small, there being at this date a balance of only $1,66 to the credit of the fund. This being the case, I have caused the expenses of the Board of Education to be paid out of the Normal School endowment fund, in pursuance of section 18 of act No. 139, laws of 1950. The balance now to the credit of the Endowment fund is $2,220 06, which is liable to be drawn from the Treasury, at any moment, on the proper certificate of the Board of Education.

The total expenditure from the Asylum Fund, is $2,146 71, leaving a balance due the fund on the $5,000 loan from the general fund, subject to be drawn at any time, of $2,863 29. The total receipts to the asylum fund for land sold, is $1,391 09, leaving $3,608 91 yet to be received to balance the account with the general fund. The expenditures for the last year consist in the expenses of the Board of Trustees, and $1,280 for the purchase of a tract of land near Kalamazoo, upon which to locate the asylum for the insane.

The amount of the Railroad deposits is subject to be drawn from the Treasury at any time upon proper application by the owners of the land.

CONTINGENT FUND. Balance in Treasury Dec. 1, 1850,. Appropriated by Legislature of 1851, ...d.

$1,435 48

6,000 00

$7,435 48 Expenditures during past year, .

$337 50 Balance in Treasury Nov. 30, 1851,- 7,097 98

$7,435 48 The further sum of $3,000 will be passed to the credit of this fund next February in pursuance of Act No. 160, laws of 1851. By Act No. 166, laws of 1850, $1,000 of the general fund was also placed at the disposal of the Governor, for the purpose of procuring a block of native copper from the mines of this state for the Washington National Monument, $868 of which remains unexpended.

STATE BUILDING FUND. There have been no expenditures from this fund during the last fiscal year. The amount of receipts is $1,453 57.

STATE INDEBTEDNESS. The funded and fundable debt of the State not yet due is as follows: General fund bonds, due May, 1856,-

$100,000 00 Unversity bonds, due July, 1858,.

100,000 00 Detroit and Pontiac railroad bonds, due July, 1858,.. 100,000 00 Penitentiary bonds, due Jan., 1859,

20,000 00 do do do

40,000 00 Full paid $5,000,000 loan bonds, due Jan., 1863,- 180,000 00 Adjusted bonds, due Jan., 1863,..

275,732 83 Internal improvement warrant bonds, due Jan., 1870, 234,200 00


Total, ..

$1,049,932 83 The part paid $5,000,000 loan bonds outstanding,

will, if funded previous to Jan. 1, 1853, amount to,...

1,503,336 30 Bonds issuable for outstanding I. I. warrants, say... 15,000 00 Making the total funded and fundable debt not yet due,

$2,568,269 13

The amounts due the educational funds are considered permanent loans, and will probably so remain--at least until the other portion of our State indebtedness shall have been cancelled: Amount due Primary school fund,

$238,252 18 do University fund,

22,608 29 do Normal school Endowment fund,

2,220 06

Total dưe educational funds, ...,

$263,080 53

The amount of indebtedness now due, the means in the State Treasury will be amply sufficient to meet—indeed it is proposed, as stated in another portion of this report, to purchase at least $100,000 of our stocks. It will be a source of gratification to see the State commence the liquidation of her public debt from the surplus derived from the ordinary sources of revenue. On the other hand it is to be regretted that the last legislature could not agree upon and establish a Sinking Fund, in compliance with the constitution of 1850, to commence in 1852. The new constitution was adopted with great unanimity, and so far as I have had an opportunity of judging, the above was considered one of its most important provisions. A portion of the State debt will soon become due, and the faithi of the State is pledged for its prompt redemption-sound public policy as well as justice to our creditors requires it—the people, through their votes on the adoption of the constitution, demand it. It is not sufficient that the interest is promptly paid—this alone will never relieve us from ,ndebtedness. The interest in seventeen years will exceed the debt itself, while the debt will remain to impede our progress, retard our prosperity, and tarnish the honor and credit of the State. Nearly all the indebted States have made provision, by a Sinking Fund or otherwise, for the gradual extinguishment of their indebtedness. Then why should Michigan, with all her natural resources, with a soil scarcely equalled in fertility and productiveness, with a population whose industry and enterprise cannot be excelled, delay longer to provide for the gradual absorption of that debt, which has aided not a little in her general prosperity?

STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION. This Board, consisting of the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Commissioner of the State Land Office and Auditor General, met at the Capitol on the 18th day of August last, as required by law. The result of their labors (see statement No. 9,) is before the people, and it is believed much good has been accomplished, and many evils corrected. The Board did not feel authorized to materially increase the aggregate valuation of the State; but in view of the fact that property is assessed at only about onethird its real value, thus increasing the per centage of tax to be raised; and knowing that such a course has an injurious effect abroad, although our State tax is much lower in proportion to our population than many of our sister States, the Board unanimously adopted the following Preamble and Resolutions:

Whereas, The rule of assessment in this State, adopted by the assessors of the several counties, as appears from evidence presented to this Board, reduces the aggregate of the assessable property of this State, to less than one-third of its actual cash and selling value;

And whereas, This Board believe that it has been anticipated such aggregate would be increased by their action, to an amount near such actual cash selling value;

Resolved, That from a critical examination of the law under which this board is organized, we are of opinion that we are not authorized to increase the aggregate as returned beyond what has become necessary to produce relative, equal and uniform valuations between the several counties.

Resolved further, That we believe the true interests of the State would be promoted by such increase, and that we are satisfied from a careful examination of the statistics and other evidence before us, that the actual value of the assessable property of this State exceeds one hundred million of dollars.

Resolved, That we respectfully recommend to the consideration of the Legislature at its next nession, the propriety of providing by law for assessing property at its selling value."

Let the Legislature provide for the assessment of all property at its true cash value, and let each assessor honestly appraise the same as it should be appraised in payment of a just debt due from a sol. vent debtor, and there will be very little duty left for a State board to perform. Under such a system, the aggregate valuation of the

[ocr errors]

State would no doubt exceed $100,000,000 --the per cent for State tax would be a mere trifle—it would have a beneficial influence in inducing emigration to our State-whereas, many are now deterred from settling here on account of our secmingly high rate of taxation. The aggregate valuation of the State in 1839 was $45,302,702 29. In 1851 it is only $30,976,270 08, while the population in 1850 exceeds that of 1840, 187,504---clearly showing a constant effort on the part of assessors to get their own valuation a little lower than that of their neighbors, and boards of supervisors at their annual meetings, carry out the same principle—in many cases materially reducing the aggregate,thus escaping their just proportion of the State tax. The growth of this evil will be partially checked by the establishment of a State board of equalization, but its root can only be eradicated by providing for the assessment of all property at its true cash value.

Such a system has lately been adopted in Ohio, and has increased the valuations for purposes of assessment, more than 200 per cent. The provision in the Ohio system requiring each person to swear to the value of his own property, thus making every man his own assessor, I cannot approve. It is offering a premium for perjury. It requires a man to take an oath, upon which, if false, he cannot be convicted and punished. It furnishes a sufficient excuse for the assessor to return a low valuation, which many will from time to time avail themselves of, and thus the valuations will be again unequal.

The great object to be attained by any system of taxation, is equality-and equality can only be attained by bringing out all the property for purposes of taxation-nothing must be concealed from the knowledge of the assessor. Does the present system do this? Does it not tax the little all of the poor man, while the rich man's thousands escape? The property of the man in moderate circumstances, is in full view of the assessor, and every dollar is taxed, while many coffers, well lined with bonds and mortgages, bank, railroad and other stocks, are beyond the knowledge of the officer and entirely escape taxation. Is it at all strange then, that the State

. board should have unanimously agreed to urge this matter, by the passage of the above resolutions, upon the consideration of the Legislature--and should not every public officer, whose duty it is, as


« PreviousContinue »