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EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, SPRINGFIELD, ILL.,

April 14, 1869. To the Speaker of the Senate :

A bill for “ An act to fund and provide for paying the railroad debts of counties, townships, cities and towns," which originated in the Senate, has received from me the most careful consideration, and I regret to find myself unable to concur with the General Assembly in the opinion that it should become a law.

It will be discovered, upon a careful examination of the bill, that it contemplates first that whenever any county, township, city or town has heretofore, upon a vote of the legal voters of such county, township, city or town, as contemplated in the seventh section of the bill, contracted any “bond debt" in aid of the construction of any one or more railroads, which is or are already completed near to, into or through such county, township, city or town, it shall be lawful for the holders of any of the bonds of such county, township, city or town, issued in aid of the construction of such road, to cause the same to be registered in the office of the Auditor of Public Accounts, and after such registry it is made the duty of the State to set apart in the State Treasury, for the use of such county, township, city or town

First. All the proceeds of all the taxes assessed upon the said railroad or railroads, and all their property, in such county, township, city or town, for any purpose whatever, general or local, except the two-mill tax and the State tax levied for the use of schools.

Second. All the state taxes paid into the State Treasury on the increased valuation of the taxable property of said county, township, city or town, over and above the assessed value of the taxa

Vol. II-122

ble property of such county, township, city or town, made for the

year 1868.

Without noticing the details of the bill intended to provide the means for ascertaining the amounts of money arising from the before-mentioned sources, it further directs that when the bonds of any county, township, city or town shall be so registered, the Auditor shall annually ascertain the amount of interest due upon such registered bonds, and shall, from the amount so ascertained to be due, deduct the amounts in the State Treasury to the credit of the county, township, city or town liable on such bonds, arising from the excess of the valuation of its taxable property over the valuation of 1868, ard from the taxes arising from the property of the railroad company in aid of which said bonds were given, situated in the county, township, city or town, and shall then proceed upon the basis of the current assessment of the property in such county, township, city or town, to compute the rate per centum that will be required to make the sum, in addition to the sums reserved, to pay the interest due on said bonds, to certify the rate required to the proper officer of the county, township, city or town, who is required to add the required per centum to that required to be collected for State purposes, and when collected the same shall be paid into the State Treasury.

And it is also provided in the bill that upon the completion of any railroad, within ten years from and after the passage of the act, which shall run near to, into or through any county, town. ship, city or town, so that cars shall have run thereon, the holders of any bonds issued in aid of such railroad, under the conditions mentioned in the seventh section of the act, may cause the same to be registered with the Auditor, and after such registry the State Treasurer shall proceed to place to the credit of the county, township, city or town so having incurred said debt, the State taxes collected and paid into the State Treasury on the increased valuation of the taxable property of said county, township, city or town, as shown by the annual assessment roll, over the year 1868, excepting as before the two mill tax and the State tax levied for school purposes, and also all the taxes levied and collected upon all the property of the railroad company in aid of which such bonds were issued, situated in such county, township, city or town, for all purposes, state, county and local, except the two-mill tax and school tax, and the Auditor is required, as before, after deducting

the proceeds of the taxes of said county, township, city or town, upon such excess of valuation over that of 1868, and upon the property of the railroad company in aid of which such bonds were issued, to order the collection from all the taxable property of the county, township, city or town of the additional sum required to pay the interest on said bonds.

It seems to be contemplated by the act that the proceeds of the taxes upon the excess of the property of such counties, townships, cities or towns, over and above the valuation of 1868, and the proceeds of the taxes upon the property of the railroads, in aid of which such bonds were issued, shall, from the time such bonds are registered, “ be deemed as pledged and appropriated for the payment of the principal and interest of the registered bonds herein provided for, until fully satisfied ;" but that, for the term of eight years from and after the passage of the act, the taxes before provided for shall be applied to the payment of the interest on such bond alone, but that for and during the remaining years that such bonds shall remain unpaid, the funds arising from taxation upon the property of the railroad companies shall be applied to the payment of the principal or the purchase of snch bonds in open market, but the proceeds of the excess of valuation over that of the year 1868, and of the special tax required to be collected by the act, shall be collected and annually applied to the payment of the interest.

The bill, as will then be seen, provides for the payment of the principal and interest of the registered bonds issued by counties, townships, cities and towns in aid of the construction of railroads, from three distinct and independent sources:

1st. From the amount of taxes realized upon the excess of the valuation of the property of such county, township, city or town, for the year the tax is required, over the valuation of the property of the same county, township, city or town for the year 1868, and the rate of taxation upon this excess will always be that imposed upon all the property of the State for all State purposes.

2d. From the amount of all taxes for all purposes, general and local, assessed upon the property of the railroad corporation, aided by the issuance of the bonds.

3d. From an additional special per centum levied, with and in addition to all other taxes, upon all the property of such coun

ties, townships, fcities or towns, by the Auditor, acting under the fourth section of the bill.

The State is made the custodian of the funds derived from these various sources, but the tax and funds so collected shall be deemed pledged and appropriated to the payment of the interest and principal of the registered bonds herein provided for, until fully satisfied.

It is readily confessed that, from the manner in which the bill is drawn, it may be argued, with some show of reason, that the assessment, collection and appropriation of the moneys derived from all or some of these sources of taxation are limited to ten years from and after the registry of the bonds.

The first section of the bill requires the State Treasurer, for the term of ten years, to place the proceeds of the excess of valuation of property in counties, townships, cities and towns for each year over the valuation of 1868 to the credit of the proper counties, townships, cities and towns; but while all the provisions of the bill limiting the collection and appropriation of this excess to ten years are vague and uncertain, the absolute pledge and appropriation of all funds authorized to be realized by the act until the principal and interest of the bonds are fully paid, is clear and precise.

This bill then contemplates in its direct provisions, however carefully or artfully expressed, the assumption by the State of the obligation: first, to pay the interest and afterwards the principal of all the railroad debts of counties, townships, cities and towns that are now contracted in aid of railroads already completed, and also to pay the principal and then the interest upon all the bonds of counties, townships, cities and towns hereafter to be contracted, in aid of any railroad which shall be completed within ten years from the passage of the act; and in its ultimate indirect consequences invites counties, townships, cities and towns to engage in railroad enterprises upon their own credit, with the delusive hope of ultimately succeeding in charging the debts they may contract upon the State Treasury.

Happily, I think, the constitution of the State not only in its express provision, but in its broad and comprehensive spirit, saves the State from the mischief that would certainly follow the adoption of this measure.

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