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 Why PARA is worried about a NYS Constitutional Convention


 

What you need to know to protect your pension.

PARA letter to members: “Why PARA is worried about a NYS Constitutional Convention - Click Here


Fact Checks and Q & A about the NYS ConCon Ballot Referendum:

Q: Why is the referendum whether or not to have a state constitutional convention going to be on the NYS ballot on November 7, 2017?

A: The NYS Constitution requires that this referendum be on the ballot every twenty years.

Q: Is a constitutional convention the only way to make amendments to the NYS Constitution?

A: No. New York is one of 49 states that can make amendments to its state’s constitution through a process called a legislatively referred constitutional amendment.  To learn more: https://ballotpedia.org/Legislatively_referred_constitutional_amendment

Q: If there is a “yes” vote on November 7, 2017 to hold a NYS ConCon by a majority of NYS voters, what would happen next?

A: A year later, on election day November 6, 2018, New Yorkers elect the 204 delegates to the convention.  On April 2, 2019, the convention delegates convene and propose amendments for ratification.  On election day November 5, 2019, New Yorkers vote on every amendment proposed by the convention.  http://www.newyorkconcon.info/

Q: Is there an extra cost to NYS Taxpayers to convene a ConCon?

A: Yes. Based on costs associated with the last NYS ConCon held in 1967, and adjusted for today's technological requirements to support it, plus salaries, administration and potential increases in the pensions for NYS officials who may also serve as delegates to the ConCon, the cost to NYS taxpayers could reach $100 million or more.

Q: How would I know what could be on the agenda if there is a NYS ConCon?

A: You wouldn’t. There is no advance agenda.  The agenda is determined by the elected delegates.

Q: Is my NYS pension protected by the NYS Constitution?

A: Yes. In ARTICLE V, Section 7 [Membership in retirement systems; benefits not to be diminished nor impaired] it states: "After July first, nineteen hundred forty, membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or of a civil division thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired. (New. Adopted by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938.)"

Q: Can the protection provided by this section, called a "non-impairment clause" be changed in any way during a NYS ConCon?

A: Yes.

Q: If I live in NYS, my pension is not taxed. Where is that provision in the NYS Constitution?

A: Correct. ARTICLE XVI, Section 5 [Compensation of public officers and employees subject to taxation] states: " All salaries, wages and other compensation, except pensions, paid to officers and employees of the state and its subdivisions and agencies shall be subject to taxation. (Amended by vote of the people November 6, 2001.)"

Q: Can this exemption be changed or eliminated during a NYS ConCon?

A: Yes.

Q: Is there an argument for the other side – that a “yes” vote for a NYS ConCon would not hurt public employees?

A: Yes.  There are advocates at far ends of the political spectra for holding a NYS ConCon.  Here is a blog post discussing why a ConCon would not take away public employee rights. PARA does not believe any risk to our earned benefits is worth a dice roll.  But please read this to be more informed. http://www.rockinst.org/observations/galie/2017-08-09_galie.aspx

However, we suggest strongly that you read this opinion piece by a veteran of the NYS Assembly who notes the risk of outside influence such as what has happened in Wisconsin and other states. http://www.nyconcon.com/news/

Q: I heard that the ConCon referendum question was going to be on the back of the ballot. Is that true?

A: It could be. A law suit was filed by Evan Davis, former counsel to Gov. Mario Cuomo to ensure that the ConCon referendum question would be on the front of the ballot.  Mr. Davis is pro having a NYS ConCon. http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2017/08/ex-mario-cuomo-counsel-sues-for-prominent-con-con-placement/

Q: Messages having been going around on Facebook and in email groups saying that if a voter does not vote “yes” or “no” for convening a NYS ConCon, it counts as a “yes” automatically.  Is this true?

A: Absolutely not.  Leaving the yes/no boxes blank counts as skipping the question altogether. PARA confirmed this with the Chief of Staff at the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the NYS Board of Elections.
Click Here for document from NYS Board of Elections in answer to this question.
 

Q: I don’t live in NYS, but I want to help make sure there is a “no” vote on the NYS ConCon ballot referendum.  What can I do?

A: If you have family or friends living in NYS, make sure they are registered to vote, and then share this information with them.  Send them a copy of this letter: Click Here


Here are more important sources for you to read:

Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA):

Q and A about the NYS Constitution and a Constitutional Convention: https://rpea.org/resources/constitutional-convention-qa/

White Paper: Constitutional Ballot Question: 
https://rpea.org/resources/white-paper-constitutional-convention-ballot-question/

NYS Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse:

http://www.newyorkconcon.info/

http://www.nyconcon.com/faq/

http://www.newyorkconcon.info/?p=1255

The Rockefeller Institute of Government:

http://www.rockinst.org/nys_concon2017/

http://www.rockinst.org/observations/siracuse/2017-07-05_siracuse.aspx

 

 


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Last modified: Friday, September 15, 2017 02:33:53 PM