« 이전계속 »
in the quantity and quality of its production, and it is the industry that has the largest number of small landholders and producers and employs the poorest, cheapest, and most helpless labor, and is therefore in greatest need of aid from the Government.
It is estimated that by careful attention to these matters mentioned above, by extending coffee planting to other mountain lands adapted to coffee and to nothing else, by emancipating the small producer from the cruel necessity of pledging his little crop in advance to the merchant, a practice which destroys his freedom in disposing of it, and by securing a reasonable hold on the near-by market in the United States, the total production could be trebled or quadrupled within a comparatively few years. This would be a great boon to the whole island.
The bureau of weights and measures, organized under the law passed August 18, 1913, in its second report, published elsewhere in this volume, exhibits results of the greatest interest and importance which have already been of inestimable benefit to all classes of people, especially to the poorest, who are in most need of protection from possible frauds in retail trade. The chief of this bureau estimates a very large saving in cost of articles of prime necessity to the consumers as a result of the reforms and prosecutions instituted by this bureau.
It was a matter of the greatest possible regret that the imperious necessity of reducing expenditures which confronted the legislative assembly in 1914 made it unavoidable that the appropriations for education should be cut down for the fiscal year covered by this report. The legislature treated the department of education with all the liberality possible under the distressing circumstances, but in view of the fact that the appropriations for this department had been doubled at one stroke the year before, considerable reduction was absolutely necessary; Nevertheless, after making the reduction, the appropriations for education for 1914–15 were still some three or four hundred thousand dollars more than they had been for anyo previous year, except the year 1913-14.
It will be seen from the report of the commissioner of education that the total enrollment for the year 1914–15 is 168,319 and that it was reduced from 207,010, the total enrollment for the year previous. But it should be noted that this large decrease in the number of pupils enrolled was due not solely nor chiefly to the reduced appropriations, but rather to a ruling of the department fixing the maximum number that could be enrolled under one teacher at 80 pupils. It was found that during the previous year in some of the more populous barrios frequently as many as 150 and sometimes more pupils were enrolled under one teacher. Neither the buildings nor the teachers were able to carry such a burden with a semblance of efficiency. It was thought wise, therefore, to attempt to do real educational work rather than make a show of numbers, notwithstanding the fact that an overwhelming school population for whom no provision could be made, seem to render a show of numbers almost essential.
The school population in Porto Rico (5 to 18 years) is 419,282. Of these school children 331,233, or 79 per cent, live in the rural barrios, that is, outside of cities and towns which contain 2,500 people or more. There were enrolled at some time during the past year 91,966 pupils in all of the rural schools. This is only 27 per cent of the entire
23871°--Ab, 1915—vol 1—34
number of children of the school age in the rural districts. Even this meager enrollment had to be accomplished by giving to each teacher an average of 63 pupils. These figures give an idea of the magnitude of the task and of how little apparent progress has been made toward its accomplishment in spite of all our efforts, and yet the future of the island assuredly is in the keeping of the people who live in these rural districts. It seems that some heroic measures will have to be adopted to make within a reasonable time a serious impression upon this mass of illiteracy. The census of 1910 enumerated 70 per cent of the rural population as illiterate.
If we turn to the urban centers we find that with their graded schools the conditions are much better, both in the quality of the schools and in the percentage of enrollment. There are in these centers some 88,000 pupils of school age, of whom 64,428 were enrolled at some time during the year, or about 74 per cent. The quality of the teaching must also have been much better, for not only were the teachers of higher grade and preparation for their work, but the number of pupils to each teacher was on an average not more than 56.
A complete survey of the whole educational situation of the island produces upon the mind of an intelligent and earnest observer mingled feelings of encouragement and despair. Of encouragement when he considers how much has been done since the beginning of the American effort, of despair when he thinks of the colossal task yet to be accomplished with the limited resources at the command of the Porto Rican people. It does not seem possible that the island can possibly ever achieve the education of its masses without outside help. The enormous population relative to area and wealth is too great.
An earnest and candid discussion of the entire educational system with full and complete statistics is contained in the report of the commissioner of education published elsewhere in this volume.
The work of sanitation has been carried on with as much vigor and success as was possible in view of the large reduction in the appropriation for this service for the year just closed. One result of this reduction was the transfer to the municipalities of a considerable part of the work which had previously been performed by the insular sanitation service, and as a consequence there has been some loss of efficiency and an increase in the death rate.
Unusual attention and labor have been bestowed by the officials and chemists of the department of sanitation upon studies of the water supply of the various cities and towns throughout the island. This work is very important and timely in view of the strong movement for the construction of waterworks by all the municipalities which have not yet secured them.
The first session of the eighth legislative assembly convened on the 11th day of January, 1915, and adjourned on the 11th of March following. There was no extraordinary session.
Owing to special circumstances which produced a lack of cooperation between the two houses there was comparatively little legislation of general importance enacted, but there was somo compensation for this in the fact that nothing of a vicious character was passed. The results of the session were 39 bills and 11 joint resolutions which
received the approval and signature of the governor and were placed upon the statute books; two of them deserve special mention, one of them being intended to remedy an existing evil and the other to inaugurate a constructive program of great importance. The first of these was act No. 37, providing for the establishment in Porto Rico of a system of juvenile courts and for the protection and care of delinquent, neglected, and destitute children; the second was act No. 35, providing for the sale to laborers of certain lands belonging to The People of Porto Rico. Under this latter law a strong effort will be made to encourage the laborers of Porto Rico, both rural and urban, to purchase on easy terms small plats of land upon which they can construct their homes and thus become taxpayers and self-respecting citizens.
There was also passed act No. 15, postponing the date of the meeting of the legislative assembly from the second Monday of January to the second Monday of February in each year hereafter; act No. 5, conferring upon women eligibility to become members of school boards; and act No. 17, providing that costs and fees in civil cases in both district and municipal courts shall be collected in internal-revenue stamps instead of cash as heretofore. It is estimated that this law, by slightly increasing the amounts of these costs and fees and by securing a much better collection of them, will increase the receipts from this source by at least $50,000.
HEALTH AND SANITATION.
While the sanitation service has been somewhat hampered by lack of funds, as has been explained elsewhere, it has nevertheless kept up its excellent record for efficiency in all the lines of work which it has been able to attempt.
Though the appropriation for the service has been cut to one-half what it was two years ago, the department has, nevertheless, maintained an excellent organization and done a large amount of good work in various lines.
Owing to reduced funds, it became necessary to turn over to the municipalities a large part of the cleaning and inspection work which, for the past few years, had been carried on by the sanitation service. There was naturally some loss of efficiency. Municipal officials are elective and sanitary work is frequently locally unpopular, and it is therefore often difficult to secure thorough cooperation between the two sets of officials. Some legislation may become necessary in this matter.
The sanitation officials have devoted much time and labor to careful studies of the
water supply for many different communities all over the island. They have also continued their efforts for sewerage systems and for sanitary dairies and bakeries. Important regulations governing the sources and distribution of all these necessities were promulgated and enforced during the year. Watch was also kept over the construction and plumbing of dwelling houses with a view to the suppression of epidemics and transmissible diseases and much improvement in housing conditions is noted. Unfortunately, the number of deaths from tuberculosis and malaria, which have always been great scourges in Porto Rico, shows a marked tendency to increase. The anemia work was carried on in all the towns for a part
of the year, but was continued only in a few places throughout the year, owing to lack of funds.
There have been 46,947 births during the year, or an average of nearly 4,000 births monthly. During the same period there have been 23,664 deaths. These figures represent a gain in population of 23,283, or nearly 2 per cent of the total estimated population. Marriages recorded numbered 13,584. The mortality for the year is 19.78 per thousand, a slight increase over that of last year.
INSULAR GOVERNMENT FINANCE.
Notwithstanding the drastic economies that were effected last year in order to make the expenditures come within the estimated receipts, it was found necessary to make still further reductions in. all departments of the government for the year 1915-16. The reason for this was the serious decline in the receipts of the insular government caused by the great European war. The decline was confined almost entirely to two sources of revenue--namely, customs receipts and excise taxes, especially those upon distilled spirits. The receipts from customs, owing to changes in the tariff law, had already declined from considerably over a million dollars in the year 1912–13 to $674,000 in the year 1913-14, but for the year 1914-15 they suffered a still further loss of about $324,000, amounting therefore to only about $350,000, or about one-third of what they were two years ago. At the same time the receipts from excise taxes suffered a decline of $170,000 for the year 1914–15, a part of which, however, was made good by the transfer of certain receipts, as well as certain sanitation work, to the municipalities. It seemed absolutely essential, however, to reduce the appropriations made for carrying on the insular government by some three or four hundred thousand dollars for the year 1915–16 in order to bring them within the estimated revenues for the same year. In order to accomplish this very difficult task the economy commission, which had fortunately been continued in existence after its excellent service of last year, set to work some months prior to the meeting of the legislative assembly and formed a budget, which was finally adopted by the legislature, effecting a reduction in the total appropriations for the year 1915–16 of $337,000. It is cheering to add that of this total reduction only $78,000 was taken from the appropriation for the department of education, and this was managed without reducing at all the amount to be expended for rural schools.
The whole problem of insular-government finances, considered with reference to the future, requires the most careful and anxious study After the struggle with the budget, which for the past two years has engrossed the attention of the entire government, including the economy commission, almost to the exclusion of everything else, it seems impossible to reduce any further the expenditures without seriously crippling the efficiency of all the services. Already the pinch of rigid economy is severely felt in the departments of education, of sanitation, and in public improvements-in short, in all the departments. And yet it is by no means sure that revenues will remain for long even at their present level.
As already pointed out, the receipts from customs have declined rapidly, until now they are just about one-third what they were two years ago. After the great war in Europe, with all its attendant disturbances, is over it is by no means certain that the conditions existing before the war will be reestablished. On the contrary, there are many indications that in the future progessively more and more of the external trade of the island will be carried on with the United States. Many commercial forces naturally tend in this direction, and it is not inconceivable that before many years practically all this trade will be with the great markets of the mainland. And this condition would have many advantages to both countries, but it would would be disastrous to the revenues of the island. It is certainly timely and prudent for the insular government to begin the consideration of other possible sources of revenue to replace some of the older sources, which seem likely to be greatly reduced or to fail entirely. Inasmuch as many of the industries are still struggling with the depression of the last two years, this problem will be one of peculiar delicacy and difficulty.
The following summary of the transactions of the insular treasury during the fiscal year 1914–15 is intended to present in the most concise form possible a general view of the income and expenses as well as the receipts and disbursements from all sources and for all purposes during that year; it also shows the total cash on hand and the amount available for expenditure at its close: Customs receipts during the year amounted to....
$350, 753. 16 Internal-revenue receipts accruing to the insular government, made up of $33,431.65 from inheritance tax, $76,623.61 from property tax, $089,186.16 from tobacco tax, $70,636.55 from income tax, $926.89 from industrial and commercial licenses, $266,454.11 from license taxes, $1,150,446.34 from tax on spirits and liquors, and $375,301.27 from other taxes, aggregated....
3,063, 006.58 Receipts from fees, fines, and other miscellaneous sources amounted to...
2, 563, 343. 15
Making the total actual revenues collected on account of the
5,977, 102. 89 There also reverted to and were paid into the treasury on account of
general fund, representing repayment of loans to municipalities and school boards, repayments of unexpended funds to appropriations, sales refunds from the working capital account of the bureau of supplies, printing, and transportation, and various other minor transfers, aggregating...
1,551, 604. 28 Making the total insular treasury receipts on account of general
funds available for expenditure under appropriations... 7,528, 707. 17 Receipts on account of trust funds, representing $1,805,998.70 in prop
erty and industrial and commercial license taxes on account of municipalities and school boards, $797,497.20 from sales of irrigation and harbor improvement and public improvement bonds, interest on balances, etc., $175,213.04 in bond redemption tax, and $1,990,552.07 from miscellaneous sources and transfers, amounted to.
4,799, 261. 01 Bringing the total receipts of the treasury for the year up to... 12, 327, 968. 18 This amount, added to the cash balance in the treasury at the close of 1913–14.
1, 437, 338.31 Made the total to be accounted for....
13, 765, 306.49