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ATTORNEY-GENERAL The report of the Attorney-General shows the increased business conducted through his department. It is gratifying to note that claims against the State have been reduced by reason of judicious management.
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION During the past year the sum of $29,515,935 has been expended for public schools under the jurisdiction of this clepartment. Of this amount $4,027,615 was appropriated by the Legislature and the $25,488,320 was raised by local taxation. These large expenditures for public education show that the people of the State fully appreciate the importance of their public school system and do not hesitate to make liberal provision for its support.
The results of the Compulsory Attendance Law are surprising. The aggregate days attendance for the school year was fifty-six millions, or a gain of nearly two millions over the previous year, which, I am informed, can be almost directly shown to be the result of this law. It is suggested that, inasmuch as many of the statutes relating to public schools are conflicting and confusing, “The School Law” should be revised and simplified.
DEPARTMENT OF BANKS The report of the Superintendent of Banks shows an apparently healthy condition among our banks, savings banks, trust companies and other kindred institutions which are within the peculiar province of the Banking Department. The Legislature will note with pleasure that there has been a very large increase during the last fiscal year in the number of depositors and in the amounts deposited in our savings institutions. This shows that business has revived throughout the State and that thrift has correspondingly increased among our people.
SUPERINTENDENT OF STATE PRISONS Satisfactory results appear to have succeeded the enactment of the law, relating to the products of prison industries, which went into effect January 1, 1897.
During the past year the health of the convicts has been generally good and the death rate small; it would appear, however, that the condition of the cells in the several prisons, is a matter to which the attention of the Legislature should be directed. Auburn prison was built in 1817, Sing Sing, in 1825, and Clinton, although of later date, was built upon the same general plans as the other two, in relation to its cells. It would almost seem that the time had come when these cells should be renovated and placed in a more sanitary and healthful condition. This work could be done by the convicts, at small expense to the State for material.
RAILROAD COMMISSIONERS The work of the Board of Railroad Commissioners has more than doubled during the past year. The Legislature of eighteen hundred and ninety-eight appropriated the sum of one hundred thousand dollars, for the purpose of defraying the State's share of the expense for the abolition of those crossings at which steam railroads cross public highways at grade. The importance of protecting the traveling public against accident at grade crossings, is shown by the fact that during the year ending June 30, 1898, one hundred and two persons were killed and one hundred and thirteen injured at such crossings. It would seem that an amount equal to that appropriated last year should be again appropriated this year.
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE The work done by the Commissioner of Agriculture, in the matter of adulteration, shows that the enforcement of the provisions of law, relating to farm and dairy products, has greatly increased the volume and size of plants, and the aggregate value of productions. The beneficent result to the farmer of these laws is shown by the largely increased production of milk, and particularly of cheese, during the last year, an increase which is certainly in part due to wise legislation, although of course the chief credit must be given to the industry, energy and shrewd foresight of the farmers themselves.
Upwards of twenty-five per cent. of our population till the soil as a means of livelihood; and they form the foundation and mainstay of the commonwealth. They pay a large percentage of the taxes, in proportion to their means. Few of their number are found in penal or charitable institutions. They are intelligent, hard-working and deeply patriotic. They do not look for aid from the State to carry on their ordinary avocations. Indeed, it is doubtful if they would approve any special legislation in their favor; all they ask is protection against improper competition and improper legislation. It is within the province of the Legislature to see that the cost of transportation of farm and garden products is not excessive; that vitiated compounds and adulterations be not permitted; and that those public servants especially charged with caring for the health of the State be provided with all necessary appliances to prevent the spread of disease among cattle, or among fruit, vegetables and cereals, and to inquire as to noxious insects, which so often overrun and destroy the results of the husbandman's labor. It is especially on their behalf that every effort should be made to reduce taxation and to secure the utmost economy in administration.
THE Excise LAW The present excise law has proved to be the best revenue-raising law on the statute book. One of its grat ing features is the fact that, compared with the old law which it supplanted, it is administered by a very small number of officials, while bringing in so much more revenue.
GENERAL The various heads of other departments, such as Public Works, Public Buildings, State Engineer and Surveyor, Fisheries, Forest and Game, State Board of Health, Civil Service Commission, State Tax Commission, Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Commission in Lunacy, State Hospitals for Insane, State Reformatories and other penal and eleemosynary institutions, will in due time make their several detailed reports to the Legislature, and I invite your careful attention to these reports, when they are received, to the end, that if defects are found in the systems of administration, there may be proper remedial legislation.
ASSIGNMENT OF JUSTICE BARNARD TO DUTY
IN THE SUPREME COURT
STATE OF NEW YORK
WHEREAS the term of office of the Honorable Joseph F. Barnard a Justice of the Supreme Court in and for the Second Judicial District having been abridged on the thirty-first day of December, 1893, by the limitation of age prescribed by section twelve of article six of the Constitution, and he prior to said date having served ten years as said justice and having thereby become entitled to continue to receive the compensation established by law for the remainder of the term for which he was elected, to wit until the thirty-first day of December, 1899, and which compensation is now being received by him, and he consenting to be assigned by the Governor to any duty in the Supreme Court while his compensation is so continued, and it appearing to my satisfaction that the public interest requires it;
THEREFORE By virtue of the power conferred upon me by section twelve of article six of the Constitution and upon filing his written consent thereto, I do hereby assign the
Honorable JOSEPH F. BARNARD
to any duty in the Supreme Court which he might lawfully have performed if his term of office had not been abridged