There is a great deal of fear-mongering and misinformation being spread regarding a potential Constitutional Convention. The goal of such a gathering would be to allow the public to suggest changes to the state constitution in order to make state government work better.
Unfortunately, there are those who would prefer you believe the convention is some corrupted mechanism to empower special interests. They are most likely the same people who are threatened by a change to the status quo. In fact, a Constitutional Convention is designed to empower the public and provide a path to fixing a broken government.
The extent of the false rumors has gotten especially disturbing. A recent social media campaign claims that the Constitutional Convention vote will be “rigged” and hidden on the back of the ballot in an attempt to count blank votes as a “Yes.” This is a blatant lie not grounded in reality and a shameful display of political manipulation. Blank votes are blank. Period.
There also has been a great deal of misinformation spread about public employees losing their hard-earned pensions. That is simply untrue. Evan Davis, former counsel to Gov. Mario Cuomo, addressed this in a New York Daily News article from Feb. 25. Mr. Davis wrote, “The protection for public employee pensions in the state Constitution cannot be eliminated without violating the contract clause of the federal Constitution, which bars states from rescinding contract rights.” In short, retirement benefits that have already been earned cannot be taken away from faithful public servants.
I have advocated for a Constitutional Convention because I believe our government has missed the mark on too many important items; corruption, taxes, spending and public safety, for example. I have spoken with countless constituents and lawmakers who are fed up with the inefficient, ineffective and too often misguided legislative process. This is a golden opportunity to introduce reform, but to be clear:
• I do not support any proposal that would reduce or impact public pensions and retirement benefits;
• I do not support putting the State Pension Fund under the governor’s control;
• I do not support measures that undermine Second Amendment rights; and
• I do not support an agenda that jeopardizes open space protections.
By providing New Yorkers with a chance to improve the foundation of our state government, we can circumvent much of the cumbersome gridlock that has hampered our state for too long.
I am hopeful all New Yorkers realize the potential power of a Constitutional Convention. I am even more hopeful, though, that voters make this decision without being manipulated and flooded with misinformation and lies. Details about the Constitutional Convention process and what it would mean for New York state can be found at nyconstitution.org.