To the Editor:
Ira Goldman’s letter (Finger Lakes Times, April 8) states facts on New York state spending and unfunded mandates which affect our taxes. He feels that a Constitutional Convention, which will be on the November ballot, should be used to amend the New York State Constitution to regulate state spending. I disagree.
Every 20 years New Yorkers are offered the opportunity to elect a group of delegates to review and revise the New York State Constitution. The last Constitutional Convention was in 1997. If we vote in November to hold the convention in 2018 we will need to elect three delegates per Assembly District for the convention. The delegates will examine every line of the constitution and can propose changes. The public will vote on those proposals in November 2019.
The fact is this is a very costly adventure. The 1997 convention cost $50 million, and it was a complete failure; voters rejected every proposed amendment! If we approve the convention in November, its cost is estimated to be at least $100 million. The delegates, who can be the same people who represent us in Albany now, get paid the same daily amount as our state senators. Yes, our current representatives, if elected to be a delegate, will get delegate pay per day as well as their current salaries. In 1997, every career politician who ran to be a delegate was elected.
Mr. Goldman’s amendments could be made without going through a convention. The regular process to amend the NYS Constitution works, and it doesn’t cost anything extra. Proposed amendments have to be approved by the Assembly and Senate in two consecutive terms before they are presented to the public. In 2013 there were six amendments on the November ballot, and we approved the one to authorize casino gaming.
Having a Constitutional Convention is like opening Pandora’s box. You can’t predict what changes the delegates will make. Special Interest groups already have money aimed to promote their delegate choices and their causes.
We do not need a Constitutional Convention.