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Preservation of the game, while not so important from the standpoint of food supply, is of great interest to the hunters of this State, who take out more hunting licenses every year than in any other State in the Union. After years of experience with the State game farm in propagating English pheasants in the hope of adding that bird to the game birds of the State, the commission has reached the conclusion that this expensive effort will never succeed, and recommends that the State game farm be abandoned.
During the last two years, on an appropriation of $12,000, only a fraction of what had hitherto been spent, the operations of the farm have been continued and the distributions of birds and eggs throughout the State has been kept up. A careful canvass has been made through the game wardens, and the conclusion is reached that in spite of the large number of pheasants liberated in the past, there has been little or no increase, and no increase can be hoped for because of the unfavorable conditions in this State.
As a substitute for the game farm, it is recommended that in each county reservations be established-tracts of land rented for a nominal sum -on which grain and cover can be provided at a small cost where the native game birds can find food and protection during the winter and the breeding season, free from molestation or destruction by hunters or others. The expense of maintaining such reservations will be but a fraction of the cost of the State game farm, and, in this recommendation of the commission, I concur.
RIVERS AND LAKES COMMISSION.
In the work of conserving the natural resources of the State, the Rivers and Lakes Commission has an important part. Public bodies of water are of vital importance to the people, and it is necessary that the State have an active agency to protect such bodies against encroachment, to prevent the drainage of valuable lakes, the obstruction of river flow, and the pollution of rivers and lakes. The much extended power, given to the Rivers and Lakes Commission by the amendment to the Rivers and Lakes Act, in force July 1, 1913, have been put to valuable use in the last eighteen months. The report of that commission details the work accomplished in the prevention of stream pollution and the investigation of complaints of encroachments on public waters of the State. The service of the commission in superintending the construction of State levees at Cairo, Shawneetown, and Mound City, Illinois, for which the Forty-eighth General Assembly appropriated $339,000, merits commendation for business-like efficiency. The work was undertaken immediately the appropriation became available; it was planned and conducted according to the best engineering practice, and was finished well within the authorized cost and in ample time to withstand the high waters of the spring of 1914.
In the vital matter of protecting the public from the peril of impure and unsanitary food, the State Food Commission has made noticeable progress along the most profitable line of endeavor in this work—the education of the public.
With only eighteen inspectors to cover the entire State, it is obvious that this department can accomplish its purpose only with intelligent cooperation from municipal and county officers and from the general public.
Realizing this, the State Food Commissioners has devoted particular attention to enlisting the assistance of local officers, obtaining the enactment of municipal ordinances for the protection of the food and milk supply of cities, and to a campaign of lectures and newspaper publicity for the purpose of instructing the public on the provisions of the law and methods of insuring its enforcement. Moving picture exhibitions have been used with good results and the volunteer assistance of newspapers throughout the State has been of great value in this campaign.
The report of the State Food Commissioner calls particular attention to the widespread practice of using fraudulent weights and measures in the
retail sale of foods. This is a fraud which merits the severest condemnation and the most stringent measures for suppression.
I recommend that a law be passed permitting adequate punishment of persons guilty of this offense and empowering the State Food Inspectors to enforce its provisions. I also recommend the careful consideration of all measures relative to the protection of the public food supply from adulteration and insanitary conditions and the improvement of the present methods of law enforcement.
I am pleased to call your attention to the fact that in this department for the year ending September 30, 1914, that there was a saving of expendi. tures over the preceding year of over $17,000; while the collections made by the department in the same time were over $10,000 in excess of the preceding year.
NATIONAL GUARD AND NAVAL RESERVE. During my administration, our State Military and Naval Establishment has undergone changes in organization necessary to conform to the detail of organization found, by the Federal Government, to promote the highest efficiency.
Progress has been made not only in the character and amount of milltary equipment but in the method of caring and accounting for military stores.
Joint camps of instruction, both within and without the State, participated in by our State forces in conjunction with Federal troops and those of other States, have combined to secure greatly increased efficiency.
The inadequate housing, both of our troops and their military equipment, has been for years a serious handicap to proper training, and has been an almost constant source of complaint. There are at the present time authorized and either being planned or in the course of construction, nine armories for the proper housing of troops and equ ment.
The funds appropriated for the National Guard and Naval Reserve have been so advantageously expended that were our troops called into service within the State for State purposes, or needed in National defense, the entire military force could be mobilized at the State mobilization camp at Springfield within forty-eight hours, equipped for field service and prepared for active duty.
HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT. In accordance with the recommendation made in my inaugural message, the Forty-eighth General Assembly passed a State Aid Road and Bridge Act, which went into effect July 1, 1913, and has now been under trial for eighteen months.
This Act changed our entire system of highway construction and maintenance, and the first duty of the commissioners, appointed under it, was to construct a new organization for the State and for every county desiring to operate under the Act.
A court test of the constitutionality of the Act caused much delay but 80 vigorously and successfully has the work been carried on that one hundred county superintendents of highways, whose qualifications have been proved in competitive examinations, are now in office. State aid routes in ninety-four counties have been agreed upon between the county boards and the State commission. A complete uniform system of auditing and accounting for all road and bridge moneys has been installed, allotments from the State aid road and bridge fund have been made to all counties that have qualified therefor, and contracts have been awarded on seventy-four sections of roads having a total length of 91.27 miles.
In many parts of the State work has been completed on sections of State aid roads and the public has had an opportunity to inspect the type of road which the Highway Commission has determined to require. This is a finished driveway thirty feet wide, divided into a pavement proper of brick or concrete from ten to eighteen feet wide, with earth or macadam shoulders on each side to make up the required width. The contracts which have been let for State aid roads are distributed among forty-eight counties.
A complete engineering organization under the State Highway Engineer has been constructed, through which the State Highway Commission is enabled to provide plans for all road and bridge work and supervise all construction with the assistance of the county superintendents.
All the precautions which engineering science and modern business methods afford have been taken to insure that full value is given to the State for all money spended in highway cons uction and that the specifications of contracts are met in every detail.
I recommend that careful consideration be given to the provisions of the funds for the completion, in a reasonable time, of the construction of the fifteen thousand miles of State aid roads, consistent with the annual tax paying ability of the tax payers of the State.
At the beginning of my administration, two years ago, the State Civil Service law, so far as it applied to the more important positions in the service, was eighteen months old. Since by its provisions all the appointees holding office at the time it became effective were covered without examina. tion and comparatively few changes in the personnel had been made, there was widespread unfamiliarity with the provisions of the law. The strain of enforcing this law, after the first complete change in party domination in sixteen years, has not been slight; nevertheless, with determined, honest, and fair enforcement, there has come a vigorous and gratifying growth in the Civil Service work of the State. In 1911, 4,685 applications for examination were received;' in 1912, 6,671; in 1913, 8,839; in 1914, estimate to December 1, 11,307. In the past year, the commission has held 144 examinations and, it was estimated, had examined 7,500 applicants up to December 1, this being approximately one hundred per cent increase over the number examined in 1912. There has been a marked increase in the number of positions filled by certification from the eligible lists and of all the persons occupying positions in the classified service of the State. It is estimated there are now less than seven hundred who have not proved their qualifications by passing examinations.
It is with sincere gratification I report to you that the merit system in all State departments is now established upon a firm basis and I respectfully urge that your honorable body give careful consideration to all measures relative to civil service, its further .extension to some positions, not now classified, which should be included within its scope, and other amendments which might make for the better operation or enforcement of the law. There are some few classes of employment where professional skill and implicit confidence is demanded, which might safely be excluded from the Civil Service list.
Of all the progressive laws placed upon the statute books by the Forty-eighth General Assembly, perhaps none is more important to the workingmen of the State than that creating the Industrial Board for the administration of the Workmen's Compensation Act.
Upon this board rests the duty of arbitrating, in speedy hearing, disputes over compensation for injury and death incurred in industrial accidents. Successful performance of this duty will eliminate the great hardships, formerly imposed by the law's delay, upon those disabled in the performance of their duty, and upon the helpless dependents of men who have fallen in the struggle for existence.
The extent of this work is proved by the fact that the facilities of the board have been overtaxed from the beginning. There have been presented to and decided by the board, by committees of arbitration appointed by it, 584 cases, involving the payment of $155,101.11. Lump sum orders have been entered in 367 cases, involving the payment of $335,732.91. There are pending before the board 240 arbitration matters and 28 lump sum petitions.
It is evident that the volume of work to be handled will increase rapidly, and if the Industrial Board is to avoid a congestion already existing, which
will soon result in reproducing in its affairs the court delays which it is intended to avoid, increased facilities must be provided for its work.
I therefore recommend that careful consideration be given to the report of this board and to its request for a suitable appropriation with which to handle its most important work.
I am informed by the president of this board that its appropriations for rent are at present exhausted and that, unless an emergency appropriation for rents, and additional help is given, it will result in a suspension in whole or in part of the duties of the board.
I, therefore, recommend an emergency appropriation sufficient to enable the board to carry on its duties until the general appropriation bill is passed.
SEMI-MONTHLY PAYMENT OF STATE EMPLOYEES.
The last Legislature, upon my recommendation, passed a law compelling corporations and employers to pay their employees semi-monthly. I see no reason why the State should not follow the same practice. I am informed that the State can provide for such semi-monthly payment of employees by the employment in the Auditor's office and in the office of the Civil Service Commission of extra clerks at a cost of not to exceed $5,000 annually.
I recommend that provisions be made for such semi-monthly payment of State employees.
EFFICIENCY AND ECONOMY. Following the recommendation in my inaugural message the Fortyeighth General Assembly appointed a committee, composed of four members of each house, to examine into different departments of the State government for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not, by cooperation of the different departments and commissions of the State and the coordination of their functions, greater efficiency and economy in administration could not be attained.
This committee has been industriously engaged for the last eighteen months in making such investigation, and will make a report to the Legislature embodying the result of its labors, which report, I earnestly commend to you for your careful consideration.
While not agreeing with all of the recommendations of the committee in their entirety, it is in the main a very valuable and well-considered report of conditions prevalent at the present time, with very wise recommendations of changes.
I particularly call your attention to the very valuable recommendations in reference to the consolidation of the penal and correctional institutions under one commission; the consolidation of the different mining boards into one department; the consolidation of the various agricultural and live stock boards into one department; the consolidation of the different normal schools under one board of trustees; the consolidation of the tax levying boards and the revenue collecting departments of the State into a department of finance under the control of a State Finance Commission, consisting of a State Comptroller, a State Tax Commissioner and a State Revenue Commissioner, the Auditor of Public Accounts and the State Treasurer being
ex officio members, and involving the abolition of the State Board of Equali. cation and the creation of a State Tax Commission in lieu thereof. .
The last Legislature upon my recommendation enacted a law permitting the use of convicts upon road building in the State, limiting the employment of such convicts, however, to those whose terms of unexpired imprisonment did not exceed five years.
Liberal use of the convicts has been made for that purpose, particularly at the Joliet Penitentiary, with beneficial results both to the convicts and to the State. A very small percentage of the convicts have violated their pledge of honor, and the work done has been valuable and efficient.
I would respectfully recommend the amendment of the law, so as to permit convicts whose unexpired terms exceed the five-year limitation to be used for road building. The limitation, in my judgment, can be safely extended to ten or even fifteen years instead of five.
In order to bring about a more extensive use of the convicts for this laudable purpose, it might be wise to amend the Good Roads Act, so as to require the counties, who are recipients of State aid to avail themselves of convict labor, charging therefor the actual cost of feeding the men while so engaged.
During the last fifteen months, fifty-one convicts were employed at road building, from September 3, 1913, to February 10, 1914, at Camp Hope, near Dixon, Illinois, doing very effective road work. Not one attempted to escape.
Seventy-two convicts were employed at Starved Rock from April 27, 1914, to August 20, 1914, and afterwards at Mokena, Will County, Illinois, until December 23, two of whom escaped, and have not been re-captured.
Sixty-five men were employed at Beecher, Illinois, from June 15, 1914, to November 24, 1914, none of whom attempted to escape.
One hundred and five convicts were utilized at the Joliet Honor Farm from February 27, 1914, until recently. Twenty-four have had their sen. tences commuted; nine returned to the prison; two paroled, and nine transferred to road camps, leaving sixty-one still on the farm operating same.
In view of the small percentage of escapes, and the general observance of their pledges by the convicts, the warden of the Joliet penitentiary has recommended that the convict labor act be amended so as to permit the use of convict labor upon the public roads, by removing the clause specifying that a man must have less than five years to serve before he is eligible for road work.
CHICAGO PARK COMMISSIONS CONSOLIDATION,
In my Inaugural Address to the General Assembly, I recommended the consolidation of the Park Commissions of the city of Chicago.
At present there are three separate commissions: the Board of South Park Commissioners, the Board of West Park Commissioners, and the Board of Lincoln Park Commissioners.
All of these quasi-municipal bodies are conducted as wholly separate institutions, with different offices, different executives, and under different managements.
These park boards should be consolidated. At your last session, a bill was passed consolidating the park boards, and I was constrained to veto same on being advised by the Attorney General that the bill was unconsti. tutional.
I again recommend the consolidation of the different park boards of the city of Chicago and I trust constitutional legislation to that end will be enacted at the coming session.
THE STATE BOARD OF LIVE STOCK COMMISSIONERS.
Foot and Mouth Disease in Illinois.
Since November 1, 1914, when the first case of foot and mouth disease was discovered in Illinois, live stock producers within the State have necessarily been subjected to great inconvenience and economic losses incidental to the establishment and the enforcement of quarantine regulations to prevent one of the most highly contagious diseases known from infecting every farm within the State.
During this time the services of two hundred veterinarians constituting the cooperating forces of State and Federal governments have been constantly engaged. An additional force of over five hundred laborers ? competent supervision has also been engaged in cleaning and disinfecting infected premises after the slaughter of affected herds. In doing this work the State and Federal governments have been acting in complete harmony and cooperation.