Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 6 of 61
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elections not more than ten per cent of the voters cast their ballots.
It is difficult to get the people to take an interest in the patchwork
method of sewing a piece of new cloth here and there at haphazards
onto an old garment. When these constitutional amendments are submitted
the people do not know their relation to the other parts of the
Constitution and there being no information at hand concerning same,
vote against them. Let big, brave, busy men rewrite the entire fundamental
law of this State and give the people an opportunity to pass
their judgment on it as a whole. If the convention does not write a
good constitution, the people will not ratify it. You can't fool the
people about a big proposition.
TEXAS PROGRESS HOBBLED AND HAMSTRUNG.
We need a new Constitution in order that we may gridiron Texas
with good roads. The biggest question of this hour is a question of
transportation. The building and maintenance of enduring highways
constitute the only solution to this vexing question. Constitutional
stumbling-blocks now seriously hamper the construction in Texas of
road building in a big, broad, enduring way.
Our entire judiciary, civil and criminal, mapped out a half century
ago to meet a condition when we had but little litigation, is now tardy,
cumbersome, expensive, and inefficient. To illustrate, eight years ago,
I tried a case in the district court at Waco. I won. The case was appealed.
It is still somewhere in the higher courts. It is fifty-fifty the
case will be reversed. If it is, my client will probably be forced to watch
the mill of justice grind another eight years. Learned attorneys declare
that no efficient change can be made in the work of our courts under the
provisions of our present Constitution. In an effort to improve our
courts, seven amendments have been submitted, of which two were
adopted, the last being adopted more than thirty years ago.
We need a new Constitution in order to perfect our educational system.
When the present Constitution was written Texas was spending
annually less than a half million dollars, while last year this State
spent for this purpose over twenty-four million dollars. The year the
Constitution was adopted we had in our public schools only one hundred
sixty thousand students, while now a million and three hundred
thousand boys and girls answer to the roll call of the school house. At
that time we had no University of Texas, no A. and M. College, no
State normals, no College of Industrial Arts, with twenty thousand
students thronging their halls. No set of men in 1876 could possibly
have written a constitution forecasting and providing for in the best
and most efficient manner, this vast and varied educational growth.
While we are feeding this educational child expensive food it is not
growing as fast or becoming as strong as it ought to on account of a
fossilized constitution that has been hung around its neck. In a vain
effort to better our educational life, thirteen worthy amendments have,
during recent years, been submitted, of which but seven were adopted.
In the preservation of our flood waters, in the irrigation of our arid
lands, in the protection of our over-flow lands, in the preservation of
our natural resources, in the handling of our public utilities, in the
building of factories, all of which questions will soon be discussed by
Here’s what’s next.
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Neff, Pat M. Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation, book, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5835/m1/6/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .