New Yorkers should approve a constitutional convention
As New Yorkers who have written extensively about the state constitution, we share a Sept. 4 letter writer’s pride about the document’s contents. New Yorkers are rightly proud that their constitution affords collective bargaining rights, rights to fair wages and working conditions for public employees and contractors, protections for the Adirondacks and requirements that the state provide a sound basic education for students and aid and care for its needy. All these great things were added to the state constitution by constitutional conventions.
But the fight is hardly over for: senior citizens struggling financially, who lack an unlimited exemption from state income tax on their retirements because they worked for private sector companies instead of the government; voters deprived of electoral participation devices, such as same day registration and no-excuse absentee balloting; students in failing schools suffering under an education funding disparity ranking among the worst in the nation; or citizens who support a constitutional right to clean air and water. These are people whom a constitutional convention, whose work must be voted on by the same New Yorkers who chose Hillary Clinton by 23 percent, could help.
We understand: The system currently “works” for public employees, and we don’t advocate removal of any of the rights that they have gained. But the system needs to work for all New Yorkers, even (and perhaps especially) ones who don’t belong to public unions having the money to influence legislative elections. That’s why we are urging a “yes” vote on the constitutional convention.
Peter J. Galie