Constitutional Convention- A Bad Idea

The New York Constitution contains a provision that every twenty years the voters are asked if they want to convene a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con). That question will be on the November 2017 ballot. A Siena College poll released on February 27, 2017 shows that 63% of voters statewide support holding a Con-Con.

The question used in the Siena poll is very similar to the language that will appear on the November 2017 ballot. The Siena poll question asked, “Do you support or oppose having a New York State Constitutional Convention in which delegates propose changes to the State Constitution for voters to approve or reject?”

The poll further revealed that most New Yorkers are unaware of the ballot question, with only 11% indicating that they heard some information, while the vast majority -70%- stated that they had heard nothing about having a Con-Con.

While there may be certain parts of the State Constitution that should be reviewed, we as public retirees, are directly affected by two specific sections of the Constitution. One is the protection that our pension cannot be diminished, and the second is the provision that our pension is exempt for state taxation.It is well known that certain organizations would like to eliminate public sector pensions entirely, and a Con-Con could provide the avenue to try to accomplish that.

Furthermore, there are other existing provisions in the constitution which enhance the quality of life for New Yorkers. These provisions include: workers’ compensation, the right to belong to a union and bargain collectively, provide social welfare to those in need, free public education, environmental provisions including “forever wild”, among others.

Additionally, there is no commission in place to identify existing constitutional provisions which might need amending. Hence, everything is on the table.

For these reasons, RPEA opposes the convening of a constitutional convention.