This section is from the "The Subvention In The State Finances Of Pennsylvania" book, by Frederic B. Garver.
Two sections of Article III of the present constitution of the state deal especially with appropriations to charitable institutions. The first provision is as follows: Article III, Section 17. "No appropriation shall be made to any charitable or educational institution not under the absolute control of the Commonwealth, other than normal schools established by law for the professional training of teachers for the public schools of the State, except by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each House. *37
This provision does not, it is obvious, enjoin the legislature from making appropriations to private institutions and organizations. It merely requires that they shall be passed by a two-thirds majority of all the members elected to each house. The purpose of the makers of the constitution in inserting this provision in the fundamental law was undoubtedly to exclude from participation in the bounty of the state all institutions that did not have a clear claim to such assistance. *38
The next section reads as follows: Article III, Section 18. "No appropriation, except for pensions or gratuities for military services, shall be made for charitable, educational or benevolent purposes, to any person or community, nor to any denominational or sectarian ininstitution, corporation or association. *39
The wording of this section seems to indicate the intention of the convention absolutely to prohibit appropriations for educational or charitable purposes to any person or community. Furthermore, denominational or sectarian institutions, corporations, or associations are also denied assistance.
Neither of these sections has, in practice, prevented appropriations to privately managed concerns. Section 17 is rendered of no effect by a gentlemen's agreement that appropriations for charitable institutions as reported by the appropriation committees shall not be opposed. A kind of legislative courtesy prevails. Only occasionally is there any opposition and then, in some instances, the bills are referred back to the committees.40 If explanation of some unusual increase or of a grant to a new institution is demanded, consideration of the bill is sometimes postponed. Opposition is, however, infrequent. As one representative put it " ... none of us want to vote against any appropriation bill. . . " *41 Another member boasted that there was no man in the state who would do more than he to aid the "charities" of the state."
37 Thorpe's Constitutions, Vol. V, p. 3128.
38 See supra, Chapter V, pp. 133-134. Compare Fleisher, Pennsylvania's Appropriations to Privately Managed Charitable Institutions. Pol. Sci. Quar. Vol. XXX, pp. 15-26.
39 Thorpe's Constitutions, Vol. V, p. 3128.
40 Fleisher, A. Pennsylvania's Appropriations to Privately Managed Charitable Institutions. Pol. Sci. Quar. Vol. XXX, pp. 15-26.
41 Mr. John R. K. Scott, Legislative Journal (1913), p. 4342, col. 1.
He went on to say that he would consider it a dereliction of duty on his part to obstruct the passage of appropriations in their favor. *42
It might be thought that such occasional utterances should be regarded as examples of oratorical extravagance or as sarcastical remarks proceeding from political disappointement were they not substantiated by the actual practice of the legislature in passing bills. On May 28, 1913, the House convened at 3 P.M. and after diposing of much business, the record of which fills sixteen pages of the Legislative Journal, they passed without discussion forty-seven appropriation bills on third reading. *43 There then ensued a discussion of some length concerning the forty-eighth bill. And after that the House took a recess at 6:45 P.M. *44 Each of the forty-seven bills was passed by a vote of 199 to 0, the ayes and noes being required by the constitution. *45
The constitutional majority is thus obtained without opposition. Furthermore, it is evident on the face of the record that the roll could not have been called on all these bills and the votes recorded in the short time that elapsed. The explanation of such an expedition of public business is found in the statement of Mr. Fleisher that "In these instances, the first name on the roll was called and the house shouted aye. *46 The provision of the constitution that the ayes and noes be called on bills on final passages is thus evaded. But this is not after all so significant. It is far more important that no member cared to protest against the passage of any of these appropriations. As has already been pointed out, it is unusual for the judgment of the committees to be questioned.
42 Mr. Fow, Legislative Record (1899), p. 1786.
43 Legislative Journal, pp. 3635-3652.
44 Idem, p. 3655, col. 1.
45 Article II, Section 4.
46 Fleisher, A. Pennsylvania's Appropriations to Privately Managed Charities. Pol. Sci. Quar. Vol. XXX, p. 31. Mr. Fleisher referred in this quotation to the general practice of the General Assembly.