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incurred. The Green river improvement cost | lature on this subject, before they determine up$859,126 79—the Kentucky river $901,932 70-on adopting the propositions of either of the the Licking, river $372,520 70; and from this gentlemen from Nelson. The legislature of this last named improvement we have never derived state have heretofore had an unlimited power to a cent. Besides this, we have expended the fol- create debt, and nearly every state in this union lowing sums on turnpike roads:
has the same power. Those which are most Maysville, Washington, Paris
democratic in their form of government, with and Lexington road,
$213,200 00 the exception of New York, Louisiana, and one Franklin county, road to Louis.
or two others, have not deemed it nec-ssary to ville,
20,000 00 put any other check upon the power of their le. Shelby co., road to Louisville, 45,000 00 gislatures to create debt, than the responsibility Muldrow's Hill road,
55,145 46 of the members to their constituents. We, Mercer co., Crab Orchard road, 71,800 00 therefore, are about to tread on new ground, and Frankfort, Lexington and Ver
the vote which delegates here are about to give sailles road,
78,122 00 is one probably for which they will be called to Danville, Lancaster and Nicho.
a stricter account than any other which they lasville road,
151,382 00 | may, or have, given, during the session. Every Scott county, road to Frankfort, 43,325 00 one must have been struck with the evils which Franklin co., road to Frankfort, 15,400 00 have been alluded to by the elder gentleman Winchester and Lexington road, 45,100 00 from Nelson, (Mr. Hardin); the quantity of Lincoln co., Crab Orchard road, 51,299 00 money we have spent, the indebtedness in which Covington and Georgetown road, 170,135 77 we are involved as a state, and the amount of Richmond and Lexington road, 75,383 00 taxation necessary to pay the interest and prinGeorgetown and Lexington road, 30,270 00 cipal of that indebtedness. In view of these Anderson county, Crab Orchard
facts, what then do the committee who reported road,
42,950 00 this article propose to do, to check this debt. Louisville to mouth Salt river, 65,340 99 creating power? In the thirty-third section, Mouth Salt river to Elizabeth
they say that the legislature of Kentucky, from town,
84,581 16 this time henceforward, shall never have the Elizabethtown to Bell's tavern, 118,778 24 right to contract debt, except by the consent of Bell's tavern to Bowlinggreen, 85,488 70 the people to whom the act creating the debt, Bowlinggreen to Tennessee line, 87,194 16 with a provision incorporated in it for the liquiFranklin county, Crab Orchard
dation of it, shall first be submitted for their asroad,
17,064 00 sent or dissent. Let me ask them if it is desiraBardstown and Springfield road, 65,190 60 ble that we should proceed further, and declare. Lexington, Harrodsburg and Per
that the legislature shall be shorn of all power, ryville road,
109.646 00 and not even have the miserable privilege of creBardstown and Louisville road, 100,000 00 ating a debt to the extent of one year's income, Bardstown and Green river road, 289,825 19 and that whatever may be the failure in the rev. Glasgow and Scottsville road, 110,385 38 enue, they shall not have power to supply the Mount Sterling and Maysville
deficiency? What have the committee done in road,
88,072 59 this particular? They have declared that the Versailles to Kentucky river,
20,000 00 state legislature-notwithstanding the advance Logan, Todd and Christian, 149,428 91 in wealth and population of the state-never Maysville and Bracken road, 25,948 00 shall increase the public indebtedness beyond &
sum which the annual income will pay-say five Total, on turnpike roads, $2,525,456 15 hundred thousand dollars-inasmuch as difficul.
ties might spring up, the effect of which would And for railroads the following sums:
be to disgrace the state, unless this provision Amount expended on Green river rail existed. Disastrous periods might occur, like road,
$1,903 that of 1840, when it was necessary to borrow Amount expended on Lexington and money to save us from the disgrace of repudiaOhio railroad between Frankfort
tion. You who have been claiming for the legisand Louisville,
220,000 lature such authority as to say that they should Amount expended on Lexington and have the power to remove the whole judiciary, Ohio railroad, between Frankfort
are now declaring, with most singular inconsisand Lexington,
-100,650 tency, that they should not have the power of
contracting a debt which, altogether, singly or Total expended for railroads, · $322,553 in the aggregate, will not exceed the annual
revenue of the state. I do not understand why And from these works, the state does not re- it is that one moment you wish to repose a pow. ceive any thing like a sum to pay the interest er so vast in the legislature, and in the next wish on the expenditure; or scarcely to keep those of to deny them even this small privilege, when it them that are in operation, in repair." I hope, may be necessary, perhaps, to save the state from therefore, the $500,000 will be stricken out. disgrace. Suppose this capitol should burn
Mr. PRESTON. I concur in the necessity of why, fifty thousand dollars would not be suffiputting some restriction on the power of the le- cient to restore the library or to supply the fur. gislature to involve the people in debt. And I niture even. This building, itself, cost more ask the attention of the convention to the thirty. than one hundred thousand dollars. And would second section of the article, that they may see you leave the legislature of the state houseless in what attitude it places the power of the legis- 1 for three or four intervening years, until an act
could be submitted to the people and passed by income upon the sinking fund paid the interest the legislature? I am utierly averse, also, to upon the foreign debt, striking out five hundred thousand dollars and Mr. PRESTON. Notwithstanding the explasubstituting therefor one hundred thousand dol. nation of the gentleman, which leaves me allars; and for the same reasons. Would it be im- most as much in the dark as I was at first, I still provident to say that a man may contract debts think that the main part of my facts are unanto an amount which his annual income would swered. The fact was, as I understood, that the reimburse? Would it be improvident then to say part of the surplus revenue of the United States the same thing of the state? Might it not hereafter allotted to Kentucky, and set apart to be applied lead to great evils in the conduct of the affairs of to school purposes, was applied to the liquidathe state, to impose such a restriction? Now, tion of the internal improvement debt. Our here is the thirty-third section, and if it is not bonds having sunk to seventy per cent. on the stringent enough in all conscience, to satisfy ei- one hundred in the northern market, this school ther of the gentlemen from Nelson, I cannot fund was then seized upon and applied for that conceive what will answer that purpose. It purpose. These are the facts about it if my memprovides:
ory serves me aright. I will not allude further "No act of the general assembly shall author. to that part of the subject. Every member here ize any debt to be contracted, on behalf of the must see the necessity of allowing the legislacommonwealth, unless provision be made there- ture to remedy these casual deficiencies in the in, to lay and collect an annual tax, sufficient to revenue, or expenses not provided for-such for pay the interest stipulated, and to discharge the instance, as the destruction of the public builddebt within years; nor shall such act ings-by the creation of indebtedness, but not to take effect until it shall have been submitted to exceed singly or in the aggregate, thesum of $500,the people at a general election, and shall have 000. Is the thirty-third section not sufficient received a majority of all the votes cast for and guard against the abuses of legislative discretion against it.”
in the creation of state debts? I think it is. I So that, in fact, the committee, by this clause,
shall vote against the amendment reducing the have declared that not only is the action of the before they strip the legislature, and through it
amount, and I hope the convention will pause legislature necessary to create a debt, but that the people themselves, at the general election the people, of all power or discretion in this following, shall sanction or disapprove of their matter. At least allow them, when they are ut
terly restricted from the creation of debts for any Now, at the time of the general bankruptcy in the revenue, or unforseen expenses not provided
other purpose, to provide for casual deficits in 1840, no state in the Union had such a restriction for. on its legislature. The then aggregate of the indebtedness of the several states amounted to could probably arise, under a frugal and pru
Mr. C. A. WICKLIFFE. If I thought there about $240,000,000, and nearly every one of dent administration of the government of Kenthem repudiated or were on the verge of that disgrace.
The state of Kentucky at that time, tucky, the necessity for the exercise of this debtunder the general depreciation of property and contracting power, to the extent of half a milgreat failures in the revenue, was only saved lion of dollars, like the gentleman from Louisfrom the bankruptcy which threatened by plun. But retain it as it is, and my word for it no fu
ville, I might go with him to retain the section. dering the school fund. The gentleman from Nelson (Mr. C. A. Wickliffe) says no,
but so I
ture legislature will ever have occasion to resort understand the facts to be.
to the loan prescribed in the following section.
What is this thirty-second section? Why that Mr. C. A. WICKLIFFE. The legislature set you may borrow $500,000, annually, to meet the apart the sum of $800,000, according to my re- contingeneies of deficits in your annual reve. collection, from that portion of the surplus rev. nues. Stop there, and perhaps there would be enue of the United States allotted to the state of no dangerous or improvident exercise of this Kentucky. The remainder of the sum was sub power; but there are also in this clause, expresscribed in stock to the bank of Kentucky, if I sions and words I do not understand, or else r collect aright. The law setting apart the they ambiguously confer a power that may be im$800,000 for school purposes, provided, that it providently exercised to meet casual deficienshould be vested in profitable stocks. The then I cies in the revenue, or to meet expenses not proexecutive being authorized by a separate statute vided for.” What does the committee mean by to borrow a million of money by the issue of the "expenses not provided for?” The legislature bonds of the state, bearing five per cent. interest, may run the state into debt upon this old sysand unable to sell these bonds abroad, or think- tem of internal improvement, to the amount of ing that these bonds were a good investment for $500,000, and the next year may borrow $500,the school fund, therefore, made those bonds pay-000 more to meet that indebtedness not provided able to the school commissioners to the amount for by law, and which the revenue is not equal of $800,000. That was the disposition of that to pay. That is my reading of the section, and fund, and its proceeds were applied to the ob- it is nothing more or less than authorizing the ject of internal improvements. Sometime du- legislature to borrow at pleasure, if they can ring the administration of Governor Letcher the create a necessity therefor by any, system of exlegislature, with a view of reducing, on paper, penditure, however provident or improvident. the state debt, ordered the bonds given to the Mr. PRESTON. "The section provides that school commissioners to be cancelled, and thus they shall not at any time, singly or in the ag. was blotted out the school fund. The public gregate, exceed $500,000. revenue and credit did not suffer in 1840, and the Mr. O. A. WICKLIFFE. Does the gentleman
mean in all time to come, or as long as the con- water navigation. The school fund, as a fund, stitution shall be in force?
is based merely on a promise of the state to Mr. PRESTON. Yes sir.
herself, that she will set apart, and hold sacred Mr. C. A. WICKLIFFE. I do not so read the $850,000 for common school purposes. She gave section, but if that is the intent, then it ought to the trustees of the school fund the following to be amended, because in the course of fifty bonds: years we may be under the necessity of borrow- On 18th. Javuary, 1840, one bond, $500,000 ing an amount largely beyond that. Now we On 220 January, 1840, one bond, 170,000 provide for the raising, every year, by our sys- On 22d January, 1840, one bond, 180,000 tem of taxation, the money necessary to defray the expenses of government. There may be oe
$850,000 casions in which deficits of 40, 50, or $100,000
These bonds drew five per cent. interest. The may occur, from the failure of the collecting of interest accumulated, and continued to accumufices, or the depreciation of property; but I do late, until the whole amount due by the state to not see that there can be a failure arising from the school fund, comprising interest and princithese causes, to the amount of half a million at pal was $1,299,268 42. Since then, and down any one time, and thus creating the necessity to January 1, 1850, interest has accumulated, for the borrowing of that amount of money: and not included in that sum, to the amount of In relation to the school fund, of which I
$51,223 29. spoke, I mistook the amount by $50,000. It The gentleman from Louisville, (Mr. Preston,) was $850,000, not $800,000; and the facts in re says that our stock fell in the market to about gard to it are as I have stated them. But so far sixty eight on the hundred. I think he is in as paying the interest on the state debt, and the error there; and that our six per cent. stocks, demands which fell on the sinking fund, even never fell below par. The tive per cents. per. during the crash of 1840, alluded to by the gen. haps did. A report made to the legislature in tleman, when the banks stopped specie pay. 1845-6, exhibits the terms and conditions of every ments, and when credit at home and abroad was loan in the state; and it shows that the five per made to falter and to sink, this state was able to cent. stocks were never sold at less than at par, exmaintain her credit, by the prompt payment of cept in one instance, and then ninety eight for one her coupons for every dollar, the day it become liundred, while the six per cents. never fell below due. A bill of exchange was drawn by our it. There was some railroad and turnpike bouds banks on New Orleans, which was negotiated that fell below par; but the actual loans were at New York. The debt fell due on the same
never obtained at that disadvantage. We now day the bank dividend fell due, and in order to
owe, taking it altogether, upwards of $7,000,000; meet the payment in New York, the sinking and we pay $271,289 35 interest. There is fund commissioners had always to anticipate its an annual drain upon us for interest, to that payment by a bill of exchange drawn through amount; and it now goes beyond the mountains. the bank, and based on the debt the bank would Our expenses have increased at a remarkabla owe to the fund on the first of January. That rate. I will read now a table, to show what 3 is the way in which the debt was met in 1840: wonderful knack we had of getting up stairs, on
My object is to strike out $500,000, and to fill this subject. the blank with such sum as may be likely to be needed in case of a deficit of the revenue. sheriffs-
The whole amount of revenve collected by the In relation to the other section, authorizing the In 1829, was
$61,396 05 borrowing of money, with proper guards, I am In 1830, was
66,309 38 prepared to go with the gentleman as far as is In 1831, was
62,351 44 prudent and proper.
In 1832, was
70,598 82 Mr. HARDIN. The government of the Uni- In 1833, was
64,758 58 ted States, after the national debt was paid, had In 1834, was
74,119 93 a surplus of about $28,000,000, and its annual In 1835, was
124,518 80 income being amply sufficient for the ordinary In 1836, was
139,381 02 expenses of government, an act of congress was In 1837, was
169,864 35 passed, dividing this money among the states, In 1838, was
205,783 62 according to their representation in congress. In 1839, was
218,363 53 Kentucky having ten representatives and two In 1840, was
255,009 76 senators, was entitled to twelve parts, according In 1841, was
261,898 98 te the whole representation in congress. Several In 1842, was
370,842 05 of the states, Virginia, I think, and one of the In 1843, was
325,413 88 Carolinas, refused to receive their shares. Ken- In 1844, was
284,084 45 tucky received $1,433,756 29, and became re- In 1845, was
315,413 35 sponsible, whenever the necessities of the general In 1846, was
348,742 38 government should demand it. to return the In 1847, was
350,838 39 money; and I presume this will never be, unless In 1848, was
346,000 22 we should get into sonie war of several years In 1849, was
415,002 20 duration, and entirely exhaust our means. When The sum for 1849, refers to the tax levied for that money was received, Kentucky, by some the year ending October 1, 1849. The levy for act of legislation, set apart $850,000 of it, for the coming year ending October 1, 1850, is common school purposes. Previous to that time, $562,000. If that increase is not enough to satthere was no common school fund at all; and isfy gentlemen, for God's sake what will? From that act is just as binding and obligatory on the $74,000 in 1834-we have increased it up to this state, as are those passed providing for slack time to $562,000. But says the gentleman, New
York has a larger debt, and so has Ohio. Yesaling. Why in the name of God, what is half a and I will tell the gentleroan another secret; million dollars-says one; and yet the people Great Britain has a larger debt. France_has a are called upon to pay nineteen cents, under the larger debt; and all the great powers of Europe equalization law, and if a man's wife has to have a larger debt. But it does not follow that wear spectacles, or if she has got too old, or too there is much comfort in owing about $7,000,000 fleshy to ride on horse back, and has a buggy, and paying $271,000 per year interest, to go he must also pay the specific tax on them. Gen. where? Is it paid out here? No. Where does tlemen have a happy knack of saying all this is it go then? It goes to New York, and is about nothing; and yet out of these nothings, an as much loss to Kentucky as if it went to the ormous debt has been created. The Ohio river East Indies, and was there worked up into im. at its source is nothing, and yet when it gets to ages. Now what is the interest and duty of Louisville, it is a big river. "How the state debt Kentucky? It is to provide a competent and ac- has been swollen to $7,000,000 is fully exhibited tive sinking fund to extinguish the debt as it in the tables to which I have referred. And I shall become due; and that will be in about will say that, in traveling through the country, twenty-five years. My plan--if I had the pow. no reform have I heard so londly called for, as er--would be, to keep the sinking fund up to that a restriction should be put on the power of what it now is, and by saving and economy, to the legislature to contract debts hereafter. I am withdraw from other purposes, money enough not for repudiation. I am for paying every dol: to pay the debt in twenty seven or twenty eight lar we owe. There is no calamity that could years. I was greatly in hopes that this conven- fall on the country, that I believe would be equal tion would so construct the government that we to repudiation. should be able, to economise at least $50,000 a
Mr. CLARKE. Early in the session of this year; but it has not done so; and I am for a tax convention, resolutions were offered by some to raise that sum; to be appropriated over and two or three gentlemen, and my remembrance is, above what the sinking fund now is. The fund that some one ortwo were referred to the commit. thus increased, the first year would pay $50,000 tee of which I have the honor to be chairman. -the next $53,000—the next $56,180 and so on, These resolutions were on the subject of impos. until it will pay the debt in twenty-five years. ing some restriction upon the power of the le. I do not want the legislature to have the power gislature, in the contraction of public debt, and to run us in debt any more. If the section they were duly considered by the committee. I means, that they never shall so long as this con. think I but express the sentiments of every stitution may stand, incur more than $500,000 member of that committee when I say, that they indebteduess in the aggregate, then it improves all concur in the opinion, that some restriction the section; yet I should be unwilling thus to ought to be imposed. There were in the comrestrict the legislature, because in the course of mittee, those who believed that one restriction fifty years, we may expect in a great state like would be sufficient, while others believed a more this, to be obliged to borrow more than that rigid one would be necessary, but there were
none who did not believe that some restriction The gentleman from Lonisville, (Mr. Preston,) should be imposed on the legislative action ou said, suppose the capitol should burn down. the subject. "The past history of the state has Well sir, if this miserable building, drawn after satisfied, not only them, but as I believe a large a Grecian Temple, and looking for all the majority of the people of the state, that a wild world, when across the bridge, like the end of and reckless system of running into debi, had another bridge to the hill back here and which pervaded the legislature in by.gone times, for a is a disgrace to the state--if it should take fire ; number of years, and that their heedless, head. why in the name of God let it burn. We have long practice in this particular, should be rehad one or two capitols burned down, and a strained. This thirty-second section was in. meeting house, or two; and I do not care how corporated into this report for that purpose. soon we get rid of this mean, contemptible, There were those in the commiitee who be. bridge-looking edifico. It is any thing but a lieved that the legislature, for this purpose of capitul, in which to do business. Lot the gen. supplying casual deficits in the revenue, should tleinan go to Mississippi, and see the magnificent not go beyond $50,000 in their power to borrow; capital at Jackson; and as a Kentuckian, he others believed the limit should be $100,000, will feel disgraced and humbled at the compari: others $250,000, and others again $500,000. But
But our building cost 70 or $80,000 ; and at the time that section was drafted in commitif it should burn, would it be necessary to bor. tee, it was not intended or supposed that a disrow $500,000 to re-builu it? Will not two couts cretion was conferred on the legislature at any additional tax, provide the amount necessary? time, singly or in the aggregate to create a debt Certainly; and the same meaus should be re. excoeding $500,000. No one of them supposed sorted to, to meet any similar emergency. I am that the legislature, ondor this phraseology, “or not against spending a thousand, or á million for expenses not provided for,” could at one sesdollars, if it is necessary to the prosperity of the sion appropriate half a million, thus incurring country. But I am unwilling to confer upon expenses, and then at the next session, could the legislature the power of getting us into levy a tax or issue state bonds for the purpose debt. They have got us into debt enough al- of defraying that expense; and so on from sesready. The gentlemen who havo argued here, sion to session running the stato into debt. I am do not seem to understand the condition of the constrained to acknowledge that the section does common peoplo of the country; . It is a very not meet my entire approbation, because if there hard task for a man now to pay his taxes; and is any ambiguity in its language, I am well sat. yet gentlemen seen 10 regurl it as a mere noth-lisfied that the construction placed on it will be
to allow the legislature to borrow money. My the poople to raise the money to meet such deexperience and reading have taught me thăt legis- ficit. There is no necessity, therefore, for this lative bodies in all countries are not disposed to provision granting them the power to borrow give up any thing, but that on the contrary they $500,000. There is no one subject, on which are inclined to encroachment. If, therefore, the the people are so universally agreed, as the prosection is susceptible of any other than a plain, priety of limiting the debt-contracting power of palpable and definite construction, I am in fa. the legislature, and no reform was more loudly vor of making it so plain that none can mistake called for. All know that our taxes have been or misunderstand it. I am willing here to state, largely increased in consequence of the state that I have not supposed that at any period in the debt; and I do not want any thing done by the future history of Kentucky, there will be a ne legislature to increase that taxation, unless the cessity to borrow more than $50,000 or $100,000 question shall have been first submitted to the to meet the deficiences of the revenue. It was people for their assent or dissent. This is what urged in the committee, as it has been urged the people of my section of the country at least, here to-day, that if our capital should be de- expect at the hands of this convention. There stroyed, then it might be necessary to contract can be no necessity then for this proposition; a larger debt. That is a very good argument, and if I understand the force and meaning of and might furnish an exception to the general language at all, the gentleman is entirely misprinciple laid down in the thirty second section. taken, in construing this section, as preventing I do not feel disinclined to say or allow that if the increase of the debt at any time beyond an accident of that sort should happen in our $500,000. They might create that amount of state, some provision might be made to meet indebtedness in any given year, and so on, year the emergency. But I declare that my purpose, after year; for the section does not say, that for as one of the committee, is to restrict the debt all time to come the whole indebtedness shall contracting power of the legislature. If the sec- amount to $500,000 and no more. It is one of tion, as it is reported, does not do it, to the ful- those adroitly worded propositions that will ad. lest and utmost extent, I hope that one or the mit of any construction emergency may call other of the gentlemen from Nelson, will so per- for. fect it as to bring it up to the expectations of the The PRESIDENT. I wish to offer an addi. people of the state. For if I know the past histo- tional section, to precede the thirty second secry of the state, it has wrung from the people an tion of this report, in the following words: expression of dissatisfaction at the wild and “ The general assembly that shall first conreckless system of legislation that has charac- vene under this constitution, shall set apart an terized the last fifteen or twenty years.
annual sum of at least $50,000 of the public The convention then took a recess.
money, which shall be the first to be paid; and provide that the same shall be faithfully applied
to the purchase and withdrawal of the evidenMr. C. A. WICKLIFFE withdrew his motion ces of the debt of this commonwealth, until the to strike out $500,000 and insert $100,000, and whole of the said debt shall be discharged: in lieu thereof moved to strike out the words "or Provided, If the annual sum so appropriated for expenses not provided for," with a view of shall not be sufficient to discharge the debt as it obviating any difficulty as to the construction of becomes due, the general assembly shall have the section. He then moved that the conven- authority to create additional loans for the punetion resolve itself into committee of the whole, tual payment of said debt: And provided further, on the article under consideration, as the PresiThat the general assembly shall have authority. dent expressed a wish to be heard.
except as hereinafter provided, to contract other This was agreed to.
loans." The convention then resolved itself into com- I was a member of the legislature when the mittee of the whole, Mr. BOYD in the chair. original state debt was contracted. I voted for
Mr GHOLSON. I desire to inake a very few that system of internal improvements, which remarks upon this subject. The whole matter gentlemen take occasion now to denounce as wild, at issue is this: does this convention intend reckless, and extravagant. The men who were to leave in the legislature unlimited power the members of the legislature at that time, into contract debts? If it allows them to go to the stituted and carried out that system of interextent of $500-000 per annum, it might as well nal improvements, did it with the sanction of do it; for they would seldom wish to borrow their constituents. From year to year they rea greater amount than that at one time, and turned to their constituents, who had a full thus they could go on fronı year to year, and run knowledge of what they had done; and these the state in debt as much as they please. I am men were again and again elected, for the pur. as much opposed to repudiation as any man; and pose, and with the view, of fully carrying out with the whole taxing power left unlimited, as it that system. And in the part which I bore in will be, to the legislature, no apprehension that matter, Lacted in accordance with the wishes need be entertained of such a misfortune. My of those I represented; and under the same cirobject, in wishing to restrain the legislature, is cumstances, I would so act again. To hear gento prevent repudiation; for if they go on run- tlemen speak now, in regard to this subject, it ning the state in debt as they please, the people would appear there were none left of those who might refuse to submit to it, and declare that re- gave their sanction to the system of internal im. pudiation was preferable to inordinate taxation. provements as it has been carried out; and that And if actual deficits should occur, the governor they are wiser than the generation which has the power to convene the legislature at any has passed, and had no hand in contracting this time; and they possess the power of taxing debt. I will not go back to the record and refer