This section is from the "The Subvention In The State Finances Of Pennsylvania" book, by Frederic B. Garver.
The war gave rise to another class of dependents whose maintenance cost the state more than all others combined. These were the orphans of the men who served in the Pennsylvania regiments. At first the state sought to provide for them by making larger appropriations to orphanages, but their numbers were so great, and their claim upon the generosity of the state was so patent that special provision was soon made in their behalf. The earliest provision for this class of dependents was made in 1864 when the governor of the state was authorized to receive and to expend the sum of $50,000, which the Pennsylvania Railroad had given for their care and education. *134 In 1865 the legislature appropriated $75,000 from the public treasury135 and by 1873 the annual expenditure for this purpose amounted to nearly $500,000.
134 Act 6 May, 1864, P.L. p. 869. 135 Act 23 March, 1865, P.L. p. 40.
Only a part of the funds expended for this purpose should be classed as subventions. Unfortunately the accounts are not explicit enough to enable a separation of the amounts directly expended by the state from amounts granted to individuals and to private corporations that cared for the children. Special boarding schools under the control of the state were established and the managers were paid a stipulated amount for each child that was cared for. Grants were also made on the same basis to general orphanages that received the children of the soldiers. Lump-sum appropriations also were not uncommonly made to these latter institutions.
During the nine-year period, 1865 to 1873 inclusive, the legislature appropriated $3,882,298 for the support of these children. *136 The rate of increase of the appropriation was much more rapid than that of the number of children supported at state expense. In 1866, when there were 2,681 children in these schools, *137 the state paid $250,000 for their maintenance. In 1873, when the number of children was 3,167, *138 the payment was $465,348. In other words, an increase of 18 per cent in the number of children was accompanied by an increase of 86 per cent in the appropriation paid. Three reasons can be assigned for the disproportionate increase in expenditures for this purpose. First, as the age of the children increased the per capita cost of maintenance became higher; second, as the service developed better accommodations were provided; and, third, as the service expanded, inefficiency, extravagance, and graft also developed. *139
136 Exec. Docs. (1873), Annual Report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans' Schools, p. 5. This includes subventions and amounts expended directly by the state.
137 Exec. Docs. (1866), Annual Report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans' Schools, pp. 9-10.
138 Exec. Docs. (1873), Annual Report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orpahns' Schools, p. 4.
139 Exec. Docs. (1873), Annual Report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans' Schools, p. 3.
The second reason for the increase of the subvention to charity during this period was the elaboration of the treatment of defectives, the sick, and incorrigible children. A good example of this elaboration was the development of the house of refuge at Philadelphia during the earlier period. In the years 1860 to 1873 the establishment of a special institution for the treatment and education of feeble-minded children is another example. There was a tendency to differentiate classes among the inmates of the local almshouses. The insane were being sent more frequently to specialized hospitals to receive the benefit of expert medical knowledge and of trained attendants; children who were blind or deaf and dumb were sent to the institutions especially provided for them; and the incorrigible were no longer committed to the local jails, but were placed in one of the two houses of refuge. As long as these special classes remained in the local almshouses or, as was often the case with the blind and the deaf mutes, in the homes of their parents or their relatives, the state incurred no financial liability. But as soon as special institutions for their treatment were developed the state was asked to contribute to the revenues of these concerns.
A third cause for the disproportionate increase of the subvention to charitable institutions during this period was the opportunities that they offered for political manipulation. This was especially important in the case of hospitals and orphanages. These institutions could be established on a small scale at many different points within the state, and consequently many charitable and religious organizations began to demand that local representatives in the legislature procure for them a share in the state's bounty.
The large increase of the subventions to charitable institutions, which took place during the years 1860 to 1873, did not, of course, occur without occasioning a great deal of comment and some opposition in the legislature. This opposition gathered sufficient strength in the Senate, in 1863, to result in the appointment of a committee to investigate the conduct of the various institutions that received state aid and to recommend a proper policy of the state toward them. *140 In their report this committee recommended that state grants to local charitable institutions be very much restricted. It was their opinion that general hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the aged should not receive subventions in cases where it could be demonstrated that they were of a purely local character. *141 Local charities, they believed, should be supported by local taxation and not by taxes imposed upon the entire state. *142
140 Resolution of 6 April, 1863, Sen. Jour. (1863), p. 566.
141 Report of the Committee, Sen. Jour. (1864), p. 265.
142 Idem, pp. 261 and 265. This report was made before the state tax on real estate was repealed.