This section is from the "The Subvention In The State Finances Of Pennsylvania" book, by Frederic B. Garver.
Such were the theoretical conclusions of the committee, but their practical recommendations were surprisingly mild. They advised that no appropriation should be made to an institution that had not previously received state aid, unless a committee of the legislature should investigate it and report favorably. *143 They also recommended that the subvention to the two houses of refuge be discontinued and the cost of their maintenance be made a charge upon the counties from which the children were committed, *144 and that no further grants be made to the Penn Asylum for Widows and Indigent Single Women. *145 It is noticeable that the report of the committee deals very gently with the subject of grants to orphanages and general hospitals. As a matter of fact the state had not at that time begun to make annual appropriations to hospitals and the subventions to orphanages were unimportant. *146 The committee was scarcely consistent, however, in classing the institutions for the reformation of delinquent children among the "local" charities.
143 Idem, p. 266.
144 Idem, p. 265.
145 Idem, p. 263.
It seems to have mattered little what the committee recommended, for the legislature, in 1864, 1865, and in 1866, made larger grants to charities than ever before. This was especially true of the subvention to the two houses of refuge, the payments to which amounted to over $91,000 in 1866. *147 But the movement to restrict the subvention for charities to institutions of state-wide interest was not dead. In 1865, Governor Curtin advised the legislature that the practice of making donations to charities was fast running into a great abuse. "Houses of refuge, and insane, blind and deaf asylums, appear to be proper subjects of State bounty, because their objects are of public importance, and to be useful, and well and economically managed, it seems to be necessary that they should be more extensive than would be required for the wants of a particular county. But in our system, ordinary local charities are left to the care of the respective localities, and to give the public money for their support is really to tax the inhabitants of all the counties for the benefit of one. " *148 This argument that a subvention to a local charitable institution was an unjust discrimination against those parts of the state that received no such grant was repeated many times during the next ten years. Obviously, it is strongest when the subvention is made to a few localities and when the funds for making it are derived from direct taxation upon the entire state.
The legislature did not, however, respect the Governor's advice any more than they did the recommendations of the Senate committee of 1863. Grants were multiplied and increased in amount the very year that the governor sent his warning message. Nor does it appear that the governor believed sufficiently in the necessity of restricting these grants to cause him to use his veto to discourage the legislature from making them. And in the meantime the amount of the subventions continued to increase rapidly.
146 See table on page 121.
147 See table on page 121.
148 Pennsylvania Archives, IV Ser. VIII, pp. 646-647.
The people who favored larger appropriations to charities had sufficient influence at their command to secure increases in the annual appropriations, but not to prevent discussion and investigation by the legislature. In 1868 another committee of investigation was appointed in the Senate. The report, which they made in 1869, reiterated, in the main, the recommendations of the committee of 1863. In their opinion the state should not contribute to the support of purely local charities. The penitentiaries, the two houses of refuge, the asylums for the insane, the schools for the blind, the deaf mutes and feeble-minded children had valid claims upon the state because of the nature of the services they performed. *149 And because of the peculiar obligation of the state to the veterans of the Civil War, they believed that soldiers' orphans should also be educated and cared for at state expense. *150
This committee laid down four practical rules for the guidance of the legislature in determining what charitable and correctional institutions should be supported by the state rather than by local governments or private philanthropy:
(I). The state should undertake services that it could perform at less expense than other agencies. *151
(II). The state should do what it could do better than other agencies. Thus, while it was highly desirable to leave a large amount of charitable relief to the localities, because of the well-known tendency of the state government toward extravagance, certain services could not be economically provided by the smaller governmental agencies. These services were proper objects for state aid. *152
(III). The state should do what belonged to the state as a whole to do. The duty of the state to care for such classes as indigent defectives, the indigent sick, and orphans, who had no legal residence was obvious. *153
(IV). The state should do what it had incurred an obligation to do. Thus, the care of soldiers' orphans was an obligation that rested upon the state as a whole, since it was in the service of the state that the fathers of these children had lost their lives. *154
149 Sen. Jour. (1869), pp. 156-157.
151 Idem, p. 155.
153 Idem, p. 156.