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Broadside 11-3-17

FFECC Broadside 11-3-17

NY Constitutional Convention – Vote NO on Nov. 7 - Opening Pandora’s Box

Under the NY constitution the people are asked every 20 years a simple ballot question: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” This will appear on the BACK of the ballot on Election Day (Nov. 7).

Well, why not? This is just democracy in action, right?

There are two problems with that idea:

  1. The state constitution can be amended by another, cheaper method: passage of individual bills by two separate state legislatures. The change then appears on the November ballot. This process has been used 200 times since the last major constitutional revision in 1894.

  2. A “yes” vote on a convention will involve electing 3 delegates per state senate district and 15 at large delegates in the next general election. These delegates almost always end up being sitting members of the legislature, political party leaders, or other office holders – they have the organizations, staff, and war chests to launch a campaign to be elected delegates – private citizens usually do not.

Convention delegates meet in Albany the following April for as long as it takes and then publish their suggested amendments. The proposed changes are submitted to the voters with another referendum vote no sooner than 6 weeks after the adjournment of the convention. This process has been used nine times, the last time being in 1967. At that time, after a long and expensive convention, all the proposed amendments were voted on in a single package and were defeated by the voters, at a huge cost to the taxpayer.

The constitution establishes the fundamental rights you enjoy as a citizen of NY State or as a public employee or future retired employee, including:

  1. The right to a free public education

  2. Prohibiting reductions in public pension benefits

  3. Workers’ compensation

  4. The rights to be a member of a union and bargain collectively

  5. Protections to the natural environment.

It should not come as a shock to anyone that there are powerful moneyed interests in NY State who would like to erode some or all of these protections and who would help fund the campaigns of delegates who are willing to do their bidding. Another downside to a convention: it will cost NY taxpayers an estimate $340 million.

Voters rejected the last required call for a constitutional convention in 1997. Many groups from all sides of the political spectrum worked together to convince voters that holding a convention was not in the best interest of the people of NY State. Some of these groups included:

  1. Public and private organized labor

  2. Environmentalists and conservationists

  3. Advocates for public education at all levels

  4. Fiscal conservatives

  5. Government watchdog groups

These groups will need to work together again. Because 2017 is an “off” election year, we must concentrate our efforts on getting out the vote.

So, get involved with your union local, get informed on the important issues and most important, urge your families, friends and colleagues to vote on Election Day, and to vote “NO”!

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