MVB, Report on the state tax bill, c17 April 1820

MVB, Report on the state tax bill, c17 April 1820

Mr. Van Buren, from the select committee of the senate, to whom was referred the bill from the honorable the Assembly, to continue the state tax for one year, reported:

That considering the importance of the bill, as well to the finances of the state as to the people thereof, the committee have felt it their duty to open a communication with the comptroller on the subject, and they communicate herewith their correspondence with that that officer. By it the senate will see that the comptroller is decidedly of opinion that the omission to collect said tax would not only be productive of embarrassment in the fiscal affairs of the state, but also be a violation of the public faith, and that he strenuously recommends the collection thereof. Although the committee have not been able to satisfy themselves that they ought to express a dissent from the course pointed out by the comptroller, they have notwithstanding thought it their duty, as they are sensible that a great diversity of opinion exists in the senate on the subject, to submit the result of the inquiries into the grounds taken by the comptroller on this subject.

It is true that the debt to the state from the bank of New-York, is, by the 8th section of the act, entitled "an act to improve the funds and provide for the redemption of the funded debt of this state," pledged for the redemption of the stock created by that act; but on reference to that act, it will be found that the legislature have reserved to themselves the right to substitute other funds in lieu thereof.

The comptroller supposes that the avails of the sale of bank stock belonging to the state, is directly or indirectly pledged for the payment of the million loan. The committee, on referring to the 15th section of the act alluded to by the comptroller, find that all that it contains is an authority to sell the stock, and a direction for its appropriation; and your committee are of opinion that the said stocks are not so pledged by that as would render a different disposition of them by the legislature, a breach of the public faith. The committee are therefore satisfied that no objection would exist, on that account, to substituting a sufficiient amount of said bank stock, for the redemption of the "one million loan," for the amount due from the New-York bank, which the legislature might withdraw.

Should the senate think proper to provide for the deficiency in the revenue, which would result from discontinuing the state tax, by appropriating as much of the debt due from the New-York bank as may be necessary for that purpose, it would be necessary in consequence of the extended credit given to that bank, by the act referred to, if the said bank should decline paying the same before it is due, to authorize the comptroller to anticipate the payment thereof, by loans on the credit of that fund, which, it is presumed, might be done without difficulty.

The committee have thus presented to the senate, the best view they have been able to take of the subject, that the senate might be enabled to act upon the subject with full knowledge; and notwithstanding the committee feel a suitable anxiety to relieve their fellow citizens from the payment of this tax at the present moment, when there is so general a scarcity of money, they cannot, in the face of the declaration of the chief financial officer of the government, that much embarrassment in the fiscal concerns of the state, will be produced by the discontinuance of the tax, take upon themselves to recommend such continuance. And a difference in opinion existing among the members of the committee, on the subject, they submit the result of their enquiries, reserving to its members the expression of their individual opinions, when the subject shall be acted upon in the senate.

Note: Because this document is only a verified first-pass transcription, it and the document metadata may still contain errors.