A Multi-Million Dollar Boondoggle

A Multi-Million Dollar Boondoggle

In November, voters will be asked to decide if New York will hold a convention to rewrite our constitution. This “Politicians Convention” would be a multi-million dollar boondoggle funded by our tax dollars…and would give New York political insiders and special interest groups the opportunity to change our state constitution to benefit themselves. These are many of the same politicians and insiders who are mired in corruption scandals and regularly being marched out of Albany in handcuffs. Sound good so far?

Last Time

In 1967, the last time New York threw one of these parties for the politicians, the Albany insiders threw themselves a big bash in which four out of every five delegates were career politicians and Albany insiders. In fact, every single politician who ran for a delegate seat in 1967 won a seat, and every single convention leader was a sitting legislator.  So don’t let anyone tell you that this will be a “peoples’ convention”. It won’t be. And what happened in 1967? They racked up a huge tab running into the tens of millions of dollars (hundreds of millions in today’s dollars) that the taxpayers picked up, and absolutely nothing changed. It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?

Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

Today, conservative estimates suggest that another “Politicians’ Convention” could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars that could be spent on education, health care, infrastructure improvements, or dozens of other investments that would be more important to New Yorkers and families all across the state. Isn’t that an awful lot of money to spend on an exclusive party for New York politicians, Albany insiders, and the corporate special interests…especially when we can amend our constitution without spending a single penny?

A Better Way

That’s right. Rather than holding a big, expensive party for the politicians, we could make any needed amendments to the constitution—if any are indeed needed—through the normal constitutional amendment process. That would involve passage of amendments through two sessions of the Legislature and then approval by voters in a high-turnout November election. This process provides more checks and balances to the amendment process, gives regular people a bigger voice in the process, and costs taxpayers absolutely nothing. And it has been used roughly 200 times—an average of one or two amendments every year!—since the last major rewrite of the constitution, so it’s not some rare thing that is difficult to do. So why on earth would we want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to do the same thing? Turn over your ballot in November and vote NO on the “Politicians’ Convention”!

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