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requiring compulsory military training for all boys above the age of sixteen and not over the age of nineteen.
During the past summer the State faced a serious situation by reason of the absence of the National Guard. Not only was it confronted with the same local problem as every other State, namely, that of safeguarding the lives and property of its citizens, but also with the added responsibility of guarding its railways and waterways over which large quantities of supplies were being transported to the Port of New York for shipment abroad to our soldiers and our Allies.
Section 3 of Article XI of the Constitution of the State provides:
that there shall be maintained at all times a force of not less than ten thousand enlisted men, fully uniformed, armed, equipped, disciplined and ready for active service."
To meet the constitutional provision, it was necessary to recruit a force to take the place of the National Guard as it was mustered into the Federal service.
The work of organizing the New York Guard was begun in July and was so well advanced on August 2nd, when the War Department notified the Adjutant General that all the federalized National Guard in the State of New York doing guard duty would be withdrawn on August 10th, that the State notified the War Department it was ready to take over this work. Troops of the New York Guard, fully armed and equipped, replaced the federalized National Guard on all State buildings and took over the guarding of five hundred miles of canal. The State also, at the request of the Mayor of the City of New York, assumed the guarding of the Croton and Catskill Aqueducts, the property of the City of New York.
During September the New York Guard was recruited up to full strength that is ten thousand men and is now recruited up to over fourteen thousand. It has been armed with rifles purchased by the State and is being uniformed at the present time.
All of the brigade and regimental commanding officers of the New York Guard have been trained in the New York National
Guard, and with but one exception have served with the units to which they are now assigned. No officers are commissioned except upon recommendation of the Commanding Officer, approved by their Brigade Commander. Thus there will be preserved under officers of their own training and in their own armories, the fine traditions of our National Guard regiments which entered the Federal service and thereby lost regimental numbering.
On September 1st, 1917, Home Defense units were given opportunity to apply for muster in the New York Guard and over six thousand well trained men of an unusually fine type have thus joined. It was of great advantage to the new guard to obtain the services of so many well trained recruits.
The Home Defense force which is now made up of more than eleven thousand men will be used as an emergency aid in home communities during the continuance of the present war, as provided by Chapter 235 of the Laws of 1917.
The organization of this new guard has given an opportunity to re-adjust old regimental lines to conform to railway transportation facilities and has made possible the placing of units of the New York Guard in many counties which had not maintained any, thus distributing the armed forces more evenly over the State.
The greatest care has been taken to see that every cent of the State's funds, expended by reason of the war emergency, was properly expended and that there should be no waste. To this end there has been organized in the Adjutant General's office a division of Chambers of Commerce, so that there and throughout the State the trained business advice of those non-partisan bodies will be immediately available on every problem affecting our war expendi
As showing what organized labor in this State is doing to aid the country in the war, I call your attention to the fact that while there were reported to the Bureau of Mediation and Arbitration in the State Industrial Commission between April 1, 1916, and November 30, 1916, 385 strikes, which involved 216,043 persons, during the same period in 1917 there were reported to the Bureau but 228 strikes, involving less than 65,000 persons.
The farmers of New York State, by their noble response to the country's call, have increased the cultivated acreage over 30 per cent., and consequently the food supply has been augmented.
I hope your Honorable Body will do everything in its power to encourage that class of citizens which is so valiantly supporting our cause on the farms of the State.
I am sending herewith as part of this message my compilation of appropriations desired by the departments and institutions of the State, together with my recommendations, in the form of a tentative Appropriation act, for appropriations at this session.
At a later date in a separate communication I will further discuss these requests and recommended appropriations as part of my Budget Estimate to your Honorable Body.
TOWNSHIP SCHOOL LAW
I call your attention to the widespread discontent among the rural communities due to the passage of the so-called township school law.
This law was introduced and passed at the instance of the Regents of the University of the State of New York in the belief that it would better rural school conditions. I was also informed that the measure had the approval of the officers of the State Grange, who took the same view.
While it was designed to promote the consolidation of weak and inefficient schools with the stronger and better equipped, its framers apparently overlooked the existing conditions in some of the rural districts and, therefore, undertook practically to force the abolition of many of the existing school districts and their union with stronger schools when such consolidation was impractical.
The result seems to be a very large increase of taxes among the rural districts without a corresponding increase in equip ment, in teaching, or in efficiency.
It has thrown upon some of the rural districts the burden of supporting, in large measure, union free schools located in
the larger villages of townships, and investigation has shown that the consolidation of eight or nine rural districts, some of which are five, six or seven miles from the central high school, cannot be accomplished advantageously at the present time.
Another feature of the bill which is objectionable is the fact that the town board of education is given power to raise by taxation the necessary expenses of running the schools, thus depriving the people of the right to vote on the amount of money to be expended for school purposes within the school district.
As a general principle the continuance of local self-government for the purpose of raising funds for local public expenditure should still be regarded as one of the fundamental safeguards of our State.
Taking into consideration these and other objections to the law and bearing in mind the practical demonstration afforded by the experience of the past year and the failure of the law properly to accomplish the purpose for which it was enacted, it is my belief that the best interests of the State require its amendment.
The Council of Farms and Markets provided for by Chapter 802 of the Laws of 1917 has been appointed and is proceeding to consolidate and reorganize the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Foods and Markets.
I am confident that the men appointed to this Council are in thorough sympathy with the needs of the farmer; some of them depend upon farms for their livelihood, while others have been successful in conserving and distributing farm products.
The Council has wisely placed at the head of the various bureaus in the agricultural division, men who have the confidence of those who till the soil, raise the livestock and grow the fruit farmers of wide practical experience.
I recommend a careful study of the question of the shortage of farm labor.
I have viewed with alarm the decline of the livestock industry in this State. It is important that something be done to encourage and promote it.
It has been authoritatively stated that during the past year there has been an increase of 44 per cent. in the slaughter of dairy
cattle, while there has been an increase of 28 per cent. in the number of calves slaughtered during the same period in the year 1916. The law of this State provides for the slaughter of dairy cattle suffering from bovine tuberculosis and of horses suffering from glanders. The owners are paid damages by the State.
When the present State administration took office in 1915 the Legislature had failed for some years to make appropriations for the payment of these damage claims. Large appropriations were necessary to pay claims in arrears and to provide for the payment of current audited claims. This gave some relief to the owners but it did not go far enough.
I have included in my tentative budget proposals an item of $225,000 to provide for the payment of such claims now due and I have included an item of $200,000 for the payment of claims which will accrue during the year ending June 30, 1919. Thus, payments will not depend upon the action of a future legislature but will be made immediately to the owners.
CONSERVATION OF WATER POWER
For several years past there have been endeavors to formulate a policy for the conservation of the water powers of the State, but as yet no adequate solution of this problem has been found. I am convinced that now is the time for the adoption of a policy, that will enable the State not only to develop these natural resources but also to derive a substantial revenue therefrom.
It was the practice in the past to grant to individuals, by private bills, the right to use the water powers of the State without consideration. Thus properties of inestimable value, formerly the property of all the people of the State, by reason of such grants yield no income to the State, and frequently it has been necessary for the State to reclaim at an enormous expense the property granted by these private bills.
Never before has the need of electric power been so urgent as it now is and will continue to be, not only for the period of the war, but thereafter. We need the development of the vast natural resources of the State to win the war as well as to win in the commercial strife that will inevitably follow. I call your attention to the prevailing scarcity of nitrogen, which can be alleviated