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nearly than at present correspond to the greatness and the needs of the nation. Our Naval Militia should be kept up and built up, but it is to be earnestly hoped that they will be supplemented by a naval reserve proper, called into being by the action of the Federal Government.
The Civil Service The methods of appointment to the civil service of the State are now in utter confusion, no less than three systems being in effect — one in the city of New York, one in other cities, and one in the State at large. I recommend that a law be passed introducing one uniform practice for the entire State, and providing, as required by the Constitution, for the enforcement of proper civil service regulations in the State and its sub-divisions. This law should be modeled in its essential provisions upon the old civil service law which was repealed by the civil service law now upon the statute books. The inquiries I have made have satisfied me that the present law works badly from every standpoint, and the half mark given upon the so-called fitness test represents not a competitive examination at all, but the individual preference of the appointing officer, or rather of the outsider who has requested the appointment. It would be much better to have it stated outright that this was the case and that th£ examination was merely a pass or non-competitive examination, instead of going through the farce of a nominally competitive examination which is not such in reality. Where there is a large list of eligibles, as is the case now on some registers, it is practically impossible for the appointing officer to examine the whole list, and if he tried, it would merely result in a great loss of time to him, and a loss of both time and money to the unfortunate candidates. For the head of a department to try to examine at Albany a list of three hundred applicants for a $i,000 clerkship, these applicants coming from all over the State, would mean, if they all came, an expenditure of about $3,000 by them, and the loss of several days by the appointing power. Practically, in the great majority of cases, only the applicants from the neighborhood of Albany come, and in most cases the appointing officer has made up his mind before he examines a man; so that the result is in effect to work a fraud upon men who enter the examination trusting to their own merits and not to favoritism. Where competitive examinations are to be held, they should be competitive in fact and not in name only. Where it appears after trial, or after careful investigation, that competitive examinations will not work well, then the places should be exempted from examination, or pass examinations substituted, the reasons for excepting them being set forth in full. I do not make a fetish of written competitive examinations for admission to the civil service. There are situations where these written competitive examinations are not applicable at all. There are others where they can be used simply as makeshifts; that is, as being better than a system of appointment through political favoritism, but as being very far from perfect, and not as good as if the appointments were made by an unhampered official trying to get the best man without regard to political considerations. Physical examinations, and technical examinations into the capacity of the man to do the work sought, should, wherever advisable, be used to supplement or even to supplant the written examination proper, and this written examination itself should be of as practical a type as possible, and directed to the special needs of the position sought. There is no need of discussing the advantages of the methods which we have grown to group together when we speak of Civil Service Reform. They have by long experience been proved to work admirably. In the postal service, for instance, the examinations for clerks, letter carriers and railway mail-clerks, are entirely practical, and the application of the reformed system to the postal service has produced a very great improvement in the character of the work done. In the navy yards of the nation the benefit resultant upon taking the appointment and retention of navy yard employees out of the hands of local politicians and making them consequent upon fitness and good conduct only has resulted in an incredible improvement, not only in the character of the work done, but in saving of expense to the Government. Our present navy would not have been able to do its duty in the war with Spain in the way that it actually did, had the Government service in the navy yard not been put upon a merit basis. What has succeeded in these great branches of the national service will surely succeed in the State service if given a proper trial. Let the clerks, stenographers and the like be appointed as the result of written competitive examinations. Let other employees be appointed after written competitive examinations where possible, and where it is not possible, then let the places be subject to other kinds of competitive examinations, or of non-competitive examinations, or be excepted from examination, in accordance with the actual needs of the service.
The veteran of the Civil War should be legally guaranteed preference in appointment to, and in retention in, office; that is, he should be appointed to any vacancy when he can show his fitness to fill it, and he should not be removed without trial by the appointing officer, at which he can make his defence. There is no intention to condone corruption or pass over inefficiency in a veteran; but, if he is honest and efficient, he is entitled to preference.
Over-legislation And Biennial Sessions I invite the attention of the Legislature particularly to the evils of over-legislation. The tendency to pass laws which are utterly unnecessary, even when not pernicious or which are enacted purely to favor certain special private interests, seems to grow instead of diminish. It is difficult to devise an efficient check for it, but strenuous efforts should be made to find out and put into operation some such check. The State suffers very much more from over-legislation than it does from lack of legislation. One partial remedy for the evil would be to amend the Constitution so as to provide for biennial sessions of the Legislature. The Legislature has already passed this proposed amendment once. I recommend that it be passed again this year, in order that it may be submitted to the people next fall. I also advise that an investigation be made of the methods employed in other representative bodies for getting rid of the evil. I direct your attention to the custom of the British Parliament, which puts upon the would-be beneficiary the cost of all private and special legislation, and wisely makes it difficult to obtain at all, and impossible to obtain without full advertisement and discussion. No special law should be passed where passing a general law will serve the purpose.
School Suffrage I call the attention of the Legislature to the desirability of gradually extending the sphere in which the suffrage can be exercised by women.
The Legislature should see that the excellent movement to better our roads is continued, and that it is conducted primarily in the interests of the farmers and market gardeners.
The Forests Of The State The Forest Reserve will be a monument to the wisdom of its founders. It is very important that in acquiring additional land we should not forget that it is even more necessary to preserve what we have already acquired and to protect it, not only against the depredations of man, but against the most serious of all enemies to forests — fire. One or two really great forest fires might do damage which could not be repaired for a generation. The laws for the protection of the game and fish of the wilderness seem to be working well, but they should be more rigidly enforced.
Every effort should be made to reduce the expenses of the State Government. Appropriations should be itemized and not, save in rare cases, made in lump sums. All needless offices should be abolished. For instance the Attorney-General's office should do the work now done by the special counsel for the different hospitals for the insane; and these special counsel should be abolished. Wher