1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 66 Part 1

CHAPTER LXVI

ARTHUR CAPPER

By CECIL HOWES

Hon. Arthur Capper, Governor of Kansas

HON. ARTHUR CAPPER, GOVERNOR OF KANSAS

[Photograph by Willard, Topeka]

Arthur Capper was the first native Kansan to be elevated to the highest office in the gift of the people of his State. He came into office under a severe handicap, and the first few months of his term was marked by two outstanding achievements.

He found the upper branch of the Legislature entirely out of sympathy with his plans, and that the State Institutions were managed by his political opponents. He compelled the Democratic Boards to give the State real service without politics as the controlling factor.

He proved to the voters of the State that he meant what he said when he made his campaign speeches promising certain things. He regarded these promises as notes, to be paid, "according to the bond."

Without any other matters of State this record alone would probably have given Governor Capper a second term, but there were so many things of real value accomplished during the administration that he was re-elected by a plurality of 162,000, the largest ever given a candidate for a State office in Kansas.

The Governor had promised an economical administration. The attempt of the opposition to load down the appropriation bills, was broken up by the Governor himself; he vetoed bills and parts of bills that carried appropriations he believed unnecessary. During the entire two years he has been in office, the Governor has kept close watch of all the financial affairs of the State. While it could not be expected that a growing State could reduce expenditures, he has been able to prove that a growing State could get a real dollar's worth of service or goods for every dollar it spent. In working over the financial affairs of Kansas, Governor Capper discovered many faults of the old systems, and he has asked the Legislature to give the State a budget system as a means of preventing much waste which cannot be prevented under the present plan.

As the result of the Governor's efforts, the Legislature named an Efficiency and Economy Commission, which spent nearly two years investigating all the State institutions and departments. It has urged a radical change in the administrative affairs of the State, consolidating boards, reducing the number of administrative officers and providing for the hiring of experts in different lines to handle the business of the different departments outside of those of the constitutional officers. Just before the Legislature was to convene at the opening of his second term, the Governor called one hundred business men from all parts of the State, to Topeka. They submitted recommendations for revising the systems of city and county governments to make the administration of local affairs much more economical and efficient by centralizing the power of administration and fixing the responsibility of the officers.

The first term of Governor Capper really put several milestones in the path of Kansas achievement. Here are some of the things Kansas is proud of discussing:

Provision for pensions for mothers who are deprived of adequate support, and who must break up their homes unless they can have help from the counties where they live. The law, being the first one drafted, is, of course, defective in some respects, and the Governor has urged some important changes that will widen the scope and possibilities of this humanitarian Statute.

Civil Service has been adopted in the State Institutions and departments.

A bureau for the education of mothers in the care of the, babies - potential citizens - was established. The activities of this bureau can be easily followed by the reduction in the death rate of babies wherever the bureau opened its campaigns.

The most crooked election ring in the State was broken up, and the last election in Kansas City, Kansas, is said by the citizens there to have been the cleanest election held in the city for fifteen years.

The worst political and judicial scandal in the history of the State, the natural gas litigation and receivership, with its thousands of dollars in fees to political lawyers, was given an airing that is certain to bring remedial legislation which will prevent a recurrence of such bold and shameless looting.

The establishment of an Industrial Commission to investigate and give relief to the women-workers in stores and factories and with authority to limit the hours of labor, fix the wages and determine the conditions under which women may work in Kansas.

While Arthur Capper was campaigning there had been a pardon granted a banker who had defrauded the depositors of a bank. In a speech the Governor declared that he was in favor of the prison for big as well as little thieves. During his first term as Governor, not a single pardon was granted except for final discharges of prisoners and then only conditional upon good behavior and although extreme pressure was brought, the Governor refused to even parole some of the big thieves in the Kansas prison.

The big printing establishment of Arthur Capper is often spoken of as the "best oiled" machine of its size in the country. It works so smoothly that one hardly knows there is a guiding hand. This is done by the employment of thoroughly competent people for handling each department. It is the Governor's idea that a State could be run in just about the same way, - no fuss nor feathers, and no brass band. That is the way Arthur Capper has tried to run Kansas in the past two years, and will continue to run it for the next two. He hires the most competent men and women he can find for the State positions, and holds them directly responsible for the proper performance of their duties. There has been less friction, less political opposition and more correlation of the State departments and institutions, resulting in greater economy and efficiency in the administration of affairs than Kansas has ever known, and it has been done so unobtrusively that many do not realize the tremendous happenings in State business that have taken place in the past two years.

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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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