1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 65 Part 1

CHAPTER LXV

GEORGE H. HODGES

Gov. George H. Hodges

Gov. GEORGE H. HODGES

[Photograph by Willard, Topeka]

The administration of Governor George H. Hodges achieved much for Kansas. Governor Hodges had had much experience in dealing with public institutions of the State. He had served in the Senate with distinction, and was thoroughly familiar with the needs of Kansas and her institutions. He gave the state a genuine, thorough business administration. In the Senate Journal of 1913, at page 847, will be found a review of the administration of Governor Hodges. A careful study of that document will show that much was done for the good of Kansas during his official term.

In the ceremonies of surrendering his office and the installation of his successor, Governor Hodges reviewed the work of his administration. It is the best account of what he accomplished to be found, as follows:

We close our administration today with the consciousness that every obligation, pledged or implied, has been complied with. Of the fourteen platform pledges possible to fulfill, thirteen have been written into the statute books of this state. We have given Kansas the full measure of our limited ability. The public has but scant concern for the retiring public official. His efforts are ended. But they view new officials with an honest measure of expectation. I do not believe it is in bad taste to recount a few of the records of Democratic accomplishment.

We believed, and the public in general thought, that this state was upon a cash basis. We found one-fourth of the 1913 taxes, amounting to $832,000, drawn in advance, and practically all spent, in the liquidation of bills contracted in 1912.

A penitentiary burned to the ground, was committed to our keeping - encumbered with an indebtedness of $19,000. We leave it rebuilded, and in the best physical condition and the best moral condition known in its history.

The finest penal twine plant in the world has been built, and for the first time in the history of the state an adequate supply of filtered water is now furnished the prison.

We leave the beautiful Memorial hall finished, while it was bequeathed to us an enclosed building with a $10,400 indebtedness against it.

We have a state textbook plant that solves the school book question for all time to come.

Both the tuberculosis sanitarium at Norton and the insane asylum at Larned are completed. Sewers, power plants, water supplies, are provided, that will be adequate for the growth of that institution for twenty years to come. The orphan's home at Atchison, the institution for the feeble-minded at Winfield, the state hospital at Osawatomie, have all been provided with adequate water supplies. Silos of 3,000 tons' capacity have been builded during the past two years at the state institutions.

Wonderful improvements have been made at the Osawatomie hospital. Food and supplies were being stored in rat-infested vermin-ridden rooms. They are now taken care of in a magnificent fireproof building. A cold storage plant of more than adequate size has been built. Splinter floors and roach-infested wainscoting have been replaced with tiled floors and tiled wainscotings, and the institution is now in splendid physical condition, which should be a pride to the people of the state.

Our great educational institutions, instead of pulling, against each other, are now articulating and working harmoniously one with the other, under a single board. The wonderful improvement made in these institutions is the result of the one board experiment, so-called, and it proved beyond the peradventure of a doubt, that in limited numbers accountability and responsibility defined.

The change in the oil inspection department has netted the state an additional revenue of $35,500 more a year than ever before.

The grain department has been an asset to the state rather than a liability.

We have paid a bond of $211,000 during our administration.

I believe there is directly attributable to the efficiency of the fire marshal's department, almost a million dollars less fire loss a year than in the past.

The obnoxious direct inheritance tax laws were repealed and in lieu thereof a corporation tax law was passed, which has netted the state almost $200,000 the first year of its activity.

The women of Kansas have been recognized by this administration for the first time in the history of the state, and while there was but one position of responsibility held by a woman when I became executive, there are now twenty-three who are a part of this administration; and the board that I deem the most important in the state has as one of its members a woman. We have women superintendents at the schools for the deaf, the blind, the orphan asylum, the girls' industrial school, and women also fill other positions of responsibility. These women appointees have lived up to the full measure of their responsibility.

There has been no department of state that we are responsible for but that has filled every expectation. You will pardon my calling attention to the wonderful record of the bank commissioner's department. There have been eight bank failures and in only one instance was it necessary to appoint a receiver, the cost of such receivership amounting to less than a thousand dollars. The other seven banks that failed were reorganized and put in a going condition at less than an average cost of $225 to each bank. Not a depositor has lost a penny, nor has a dollar been taken from the depositors' guaranty fund to replace any loss. We but ask a comparison in this department, as well as in all others, with former administrations.

We said in the campaign that the departments under our control would be administered economically and with the lowest possible expense. A comparison of the maintenance of all the state institutions - other than educationally - will show a decrease as compared with the expenditures of two years ago.

State institutions have been builded that were necessary. Water supplies have been provided. Irrigation plants have been completed. The operations of farming have been increased a hundred per cent, and the decided increase in the number of scholars in our schools have necessitated a greater expenditure than heretofore for educational purposes.

The expense of conducting the department directly under my charge - the executive office and resident - has been $18,000 less during my tenure of office than the amount spent the last two years by my predecessor.

It might not be amiss to speak a word about the greatest social problem that confronts the state, namely, the penitentiary. It has been the interpretation of the pardon board, pardon clerk and myself that when a prisoner serves his minimum sentence he should be paroled if he has a clear prison record. The governor's function in board paroles is merely clerical. He should be relieved of that burden and the action of the board should be final.

The board has paroled a few over 400 during the past two years. In other words, that many prisoners have served their minimum term and have been released. The executive has paroled up to and including December 1, 204. There are men who have not served their minimum. In every case the pardon board has investigated thoroughly and in a painstaking manner, the record of these men, and they have recommended them for executive clemency. The chairman of the board advises me that seventy of these men have been paroled because they were in an advanced stage of consumption, paralyzed or crippled. A number of these men were paroled that they might die outside of the prison walls. Of the 200 given executive clemency, but twenty-seven have violated their paroles. The balance of these men are by their honest efforts winning their way back into society, providing for their wives and families, and becoming constructive citizens. I feel that giving these men a chance to become self supporting is one of the most pleasing duties of an executive.

It is true that divers and sundry rumors have been set afloat in opposing papers saying that we had been overstepping the bounds of reason in the matter of paroles, but we do not feel that we have.

A commission has been appointed, and their recommendations are filed in the office of the governor-elect for the further improvements of the Kansas penitentiary, and I feel that it is highly important that the men who are confined behind the prison walls should be housed in such a manner that when they have served their minimum sentence they will not leave the prison infected with tuberculosis, as quite a percentage of the men now are.

The experience of my tenure of office emphasizes to me the necessity of a change in the departments of state to procure that which the public desires - greater efficiency and more economy. The shortened ballot and a legislature consisting of one body of a small number of legislators, will be a step in the direction of a solution of the problem. The same recommendation applies with equal force to county officials.

The prohibition laws of our State have been enforced equally as well if not better than ever in the history of Kansas.

In looking back over the efforts of the various departments of this administration the past two years, I commend myself upon having appointed loyal, efficient Kansans, who have placed their state obligations above personal desire or politics. I have given this state my best efforts and I feel more than satisfied with the results accomplished, and while it perhaps may be presumptuous to prophesy, but I doubt very much whether there will be a single law of moment passed by the last legislature that will be repealed, or that a single policy of moment now in effect in any of the state departments will be changed. Minor details may be changed, as is always the case, as we correct by the benefits of experience.

I bespeak for my successors from the Democratic papers of this state, that which has been denied me by the Republican press - the truth. I earnestly hope that the citizenship of Kansas, irrespective of politics, will co-operate with the governor of this State in each and every righteous endeavor that he may attempt. I earnestly wish for him a successful administration. Our love for our great commonwealth and our loyalty to Kansas, not only inspires me, but should inspire every Kansan, irrespective of politics, to be ready to assist in any and every manner whatsoever for the continued growth, prosperity and upbuilding of the great Sunflower state.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 2000.

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