Reprint of an editorial regarding state finances in the Tallahassee Floridian

Reprint of an editorial regarding state finances in the Tallahassee Floridian


[left column]

State Finances
Republished by request from Tallahassee Florid-
ian Aug 7, 1868
The republicans having placed a full
ticket in the field, announce their purpose
of contesting with the democracy the po-
litical supremacy in Florida. It is, there
fore, meet and proper, that we should ex-
amine their claims and ascertain upon
what basis they propose to ask the suf-
frages of the people. There is no better
light by which to determine the future
than the experience of the past. Political
parties are always judged by the record
they make when in power, and the Flo-
ridian proposes during the canvass to
investigate the republican claims to popu-
lar support, and appeal to their record for
the justice of his conclusions. To-day we
ask attention to the somewhat dull but
deeply important topic of state finances.
When the republicans took possession of
the government in 1868 our entire state
debt was $523,856.85 as follows:
Bonded Debt $469,595.35
Floating Debt 54,281.50
Total bonded and floating $523,858.85
The democratic party, through the ver-
dict of the people at the polls, took charge
of their own affairs in January 1877, and
found the state debt had increased to the
following enormous figures:
Bonded debt $1,388,800.00
Floating debt 299,089.38
Making the State debt due January
1st, 1877 1,687,889.38
Deduct U.S. Currency left in Treas-
ury 31,324.74
Making the debt left by republicans $1,656,584.64
Deduct from this sum the debt found
by the republicans as stated above 523,856.85
Showing increases of debt during eight
years of republicans rule to be $1,132,707.79
These figures are official and cannot be
controverted. The republicans claimed
that they left ninety thousand dollars cash
in the treasury, but an examination of
Treasurer Gwynn's report of December
31st, 1877 page 86 shows the amount to
be, as stated above -$31,324.74. The bal-
lance to make up the ninety thousand dol-
lars, claimed to have been left was simply
printed comptroller's warrants, known as
"Greenback Scrip," the state's own paper,
which had been redeemed and which was
destroyed by a committee of the legislature
in January, 1881.
It will thus be noted that in addition to
the enormous amount wrung from the people
annually by taxation, and squandered,
this party that again aspires to control our
destiny, increased the debt, in eight years,

[middle column]
by adding thereto $1,132,707.79, or
about $140,000 annually.
Now turn to the more cheering chapter
of the decrease of our state debt under
democratic rule. When the democracy
came in power in January, 1877, they
found the debt, as above stated, $1,656,
564.64. The debt on January 1, 1888, was
$1,046,800 showing an absolute payment
by the democrats, since January, 1877, of
Of the debt due January 1, 1888, of
$1,046,800, it is proper to state that there
was held, at that time, by educational
funds, $635,500, leaving outstanding only
$411,300, which amount can be entirely ab-
sorbed before our bonds are due, by our
sinking and educational funds.
As we gave the republicans credit for
the cash left in the treasurer on January 1,
1877, we should claim credit for the cash
in the treasury on January 1, 1888,
amounting to $43,992.50 and deduct the
same from our outstanding indebtedness.
But the contrast is great enough.
While this remarkable decrease of debt
was being accomplished, our rate of state
taxation was being steadily decreased from
$1.25 on the hundred dollars worth of
property assessed by the republicans, to
40 cents on the hundred dollars worth of
property now assessed by democratic
authority. Was ever a change more re-
markable? Was ever a contrast more strik-
Had the republicans remained in power
and continued their rate of taxation (12 1/2
mills) until to-day, the people of Florida
would have had to pay just five million dollars,
more than they have paid in taxation
during the last ten years. Taxes are always
burdensome, and when we annually pay
them, we will remember that even the present
reduced rate of state taxation could be
still further reduced, were it not for the legacy
of debt left by radical misrule-and, thus
remembering, we will emphasize our disgust
by burying their aspiration under a
triumphant majority in November next.
But it may be claimed by those ignorant
of the record, that as our taxable property
was much smaller in 1876 than in recent
years, therefore the rate of taxation had to
be higher. But the facts are, that the re-
publicans, in their reckless extravagance,
assessed a larger sum in 1876 upon $29,
911,453 worth of property than the demo-
crats assessed in 1887 on $86,265,662.
A comparison of democratic and repub-

[right column]
lican assessments may not be uninstructive.
During the four years of 1873 to 1876 (both
inclusive) the republicans assessed $1,641,
347.25, for state purposes, or at the rate of
$410,336.80 per year. As shown above,
they not only spent this, but ran the state
in debt at the rate of $140,000 per year,
during their incumbency, making their ad-
ministrations cost annually $550,336.80
The democrats have been in power eleven
years, and their total assessments have
been $3,306,413.85, or at the rate of $300,
583.08 annually. So the record stands thus:
Republican expenditure per annum, $550,336.80
Democratic expenditure per annum, 300,583.08
Annual savings under democratic rule, $149,753.72
And this has been effected while expend-
ing annually large sums for the State Asy-
lum for the insane, and the deaf and dumb
-large sums for Normal schools and teach-
ers' institutes for both races-considerable
amounts for the Agricultural College, East
Florida Seminary and soldiers' pensions,
&c. These expenses aggregate large sums,
not one dollar of which was ever borne by
republicans. In addition to this, the state
collects and expends over twice as much
annually for our common school system as
the republicans expended.
But the enquiring mind will naturally
ask, how is it that the democrats made
these large expenditures for educational
and charitable purposes in excess of what
the republicans did, and at the same time
incurred a less annual expense? The ques-
tion is pertinent and the answer is simple.
The republicans, paying no taxes, were
criminally reckless in the extravagance of
their administrations.
A few illustrations will suffice to demon-
strate this. Take the following from off-
icial sources as illustrative:
Eight years legislative printing under
republicans $147,330.74
Eight years legislative printing under
democrats 49,543.31
Differences in favor of democrats $97,867.43
Stationary for republican legislature
for eight years, most of whom could
not read or write $16,722.28
Stationary for democratic legislature
for eight years 1,643.92
Difference in favor of democrats $15,078.36
Eight years per diem, and other ex-
penses of republican legislatures,
not included above $524,113.17
Eight years for same purpose under
democratic rule 240,108.17
Difference in favor of democrats $284,005.00
But enough! One sickens at the contem-
plation of this revelry of extravagance, cor-
ruption and incapacity under radical mis-


State Library of Florida: Florida Collection, BR0045


...the Floridian proposes during the canvass, to investigate the republican claims to popular support, and appeal to their record for the justice of its conclusions. To-day we ask attention to the somewhat dull but deeply important topic of state finances.''


published 1888




Late 19th Century Florida (1877-1900)