All New Yorkers should commit to voting “Yes” this November to start the process of a State Constitutional Convention and halt the New York State legislature from wasting billions of tax dollars in unaccountable spending. New Yorkers secured rights and protections from every previous convention, and with the possibilities of transparency in the entire process, we have everything to gain in this effort.
The state Constitution guarantees the right to a free public education, to join a union, to protect our health, to care for the needy, to secure jobs, and to protect state lands and forests. These rights — and much more — could be strengthened with a constitutional convention.
Those who want to squash this process do not trust New Yorkers who, together, can build a convention of the people. Last year, Citizens Union reported that $13 billion in the state budget was neither accounted for nor available for review by the public. If there were ever a better time to hold a state constitutional convention, it is now. We demand innovation from our workplaces to our homes. It is time to innovate government, with the tool provided to innovate, the constitutional convention.
This year alone the New York State Senate has rejected 19 pieces of proposed legislation. If the current legislature were up to the task of moving forward with necessary good-government initiatives, we would not have to vote yes, calling for a meeting. If the current legislature were up to the task of providing information to the public about $13 billion spent in the shadows, we would not have to call for a meeting.
In this meeting, we could have a room that includes the brightest and most forward-thinking minds of our present moment in New York state. One of the best ways to move forward is with a convention representative of the people in our state. New York has the highest percentage of professional women; is ranked top in the world for bringing together technology, innovation and entrepreneurship; prioritizes public health; and values public transportation.
We are also the most politically corrupt state in the United States. Thirteen billion dollars unaccounted for represents a failure to adequately serve the people of New York, which is why it is time to hold a meeting. Nearly every elected official is against the New York State Constitutional Convention. The ones not against the convention are not talking about it. We could balance our state government to serve the people and not backroom deals. With the transparency found in online tools, anything is possible.
I urge all to Vote Yes on the Nov. 7 ballot referendum to hold a New York State constitutional convention.
Priscilla Grim is the communications and marketing manager for Citizens Union, founded in 1897 in New York City. For more information, go to www.citizensunion.org.