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Finances in Oregon.

CHAPTER III.

Salient Features of Oregon's System of Finance as Conditioned by the Financial Provisions of her State Constitution and by the Spirit with which These Have Been Used.

The temper of the constitutional convention was for closely restricting the power of the legislature in financial matters. There was little or no apprehension of the danger in this rigid prescription. Specifically, fixed salaries, absolute limitations of the use of credit except for public defense, and rigidly determined methods of taxation were among the financial features embodied in the constitution.

The members of the convention were clear on what not to do and on what not to have in a financial system ; but the absence of all discussion of financial topics, except those of the salaries and of the use of public credit, seems to indicate a pretty complete lack of constructive ideas pertaining to finance. Nevertheless, with the starting of the machinery of state government taxation and public expenditure must begin. To live the state government had to have support. Some financial system had to be evolved having conformity to the constitutional restrictions. And as the financial provisions of the constitution were retained unchanged for nearly fifty years it is worth while to get in mind the salient features of the system these determined.[1]

The phraseology though specific of this enduring constitution does not, however, alone suifice as the cue for ascertaining the characteristics of Oregon's financial system. The genius of the people needs also to be taken into account as it exhibits itself in progressive legislative enactment, in adminis-


  1. ↑ Through initiative enactment cities and towns were given exclusive power to enact and amend their charters June 4, 1906.