Cuomo noncomittal on Albany ‘reboot’ – Times Union

Going back to his first gubernatorial campaign in 2010, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed his belief that a state constitutional convention is the best route to achieve comprehensive reform in New York. With that vote in mind, the governor included in his 2016 executive budget proposal $1 million to fund the creation of a commission to examine the potential topics that a convention could address. “Nothing has happened — he’s still equivocating,” said Bill Samuels, a reform advocate who this week will announce the creation of a political action committee called NY People’s Convention that will set the stage for more than a dozen agenda items that could be addressed by a convention. Rather than wait for state officials to act, groups such as the New York State Bar Association and the Rockefeller Institute of Government — a public policy research arm of SUNY — have organized events and set up online resources to educate the public on the process and possibilities of a convention. “There’s a lot going on … but without gubernatorial leadership and a resourced effort, it’s going to be hard to organize all the strands into a coordinated whole,” said Gerald Benjamin, who teaches political science at SUNY New Paltz and was research director for the mid-’90s convention commission. Samuels, who is also the founder of the advocacy group Effective NY, said his People’s Convention agenda-setting effort would concentrate on “pocketbook issues,” such as the burden placed on local taxpayers because counties have to pick up a share of Medicaid costs — sums that Samuels argues contribute to New York’s high local property taxes. Following a playbook also used to defeat the 1997 vote, the powerful New York State United Teachers union has already warned that a convention could open up a Pandora’s box of proposals such as efforts to reap savings by reducing public pensions, which are currently guaranteed by the constitution. If deep-blue New York fears what might happen under President Trump, the state constitution offers a shield on any number of issues, from abortion rights to the rights of undocumented immigrants.

Source: Cuomo noncomittal on Albany ‘reboot’ – Times Union


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