New Yorkers To Vote In November On Constitutional ConventionPosted: Updated:
Everybody knows the problems in Albany, says SUNY New Paltz professor Dr. Gerald Benjamin.
"Ethical problems and problems of corruption. We have imbalance between the powers of the governor and the legislature in budgeting. We have a judiciary that is regarded as among the least organized in the country," he said.
He says all these problems and others could be fixed at a state constitutional convention. On November 7, New York voters decide whether to hold one.
"I think this is actually the most important vote people will cast in this century," said Benjamin.
But there are powerful forces against a convention, like unions. The constitution contains hard-won protections for labor.
"Unfortunately, if the New York Constitution is changed, your pension can vanish in a New York minute," said an ad by the Smithtown Teachers Association.
Upstate Republicans like Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush worry that most convention delegates would be from downstate.
"If New York City controls the convention, with that liberal progressive agenda they have in that area, I'm really concerned," said Blankenbush (R. - 117th District).
Also, there's the expense. Blankenbush says delegates would be paid nearly $80,000 - the same as state lawmakers.
And he says many delegates would be state lawmakers; they'd be double dipping.
"I could run for that delegate. I can get paid as a delegate and I can get paid as an assemblyman," said Blankenbush.
State law requires a vote on a constitutional convention every 20 years.
In 1997, voters rejected the idea by a lopsided margin.