NYS Constitutional Convention Toolkit

June 26, 2017

Constitutional Convention Sample Op Ed

Con Con Sample Op-Ed

Rights and protections for Senior Citizens at serious risk in a Constitutional Convention

There are many reasons to be opposed to the Constitutional Convention proposal that will be on the ballot for New Yorkers this November. Seniors especially should be concerned that rights and protections could be at risk and should be mobilizing family, friends and neighbors to vote no.

There are no guarantees that a Constitutional Convention will produce better government in New York. But you can be sure that it will cost you as a taxpayer tens of millions of dollars and potentially hundreds of millions. That’s money that could be much better spent.

It’s a very real possibility that the Convention could be run by the same old political insiders who already game the system. But it’s also possible that the convention could be hijacked by special interest extremists who act in their own self-interest at the expense of the common good.

Taking this chance is foolish when there’s already a process for constitutional amendments that works.

For seniors, the risks are very high.

There are a number of rights and protections in the state Constitution that should not be taken for granted. These include the right to an absentee ballot which older New Yorkers use more than younger voters; Wage and Labor protections that could severely affect seniors who increasingly remain in the workforce; protection against age discrimination; and guarantees to provide relief for the indigent and aged, along with oversight and standards on nursing facilities.

All of these could be fair game in a Constitutional Convention.

OPTIONS

  1. Consider the potential harm involving a change to the absentee ballot protection. Since seniors often rely on the absentee ballot to vote, a change in the constitution’s provision could marginalize our votes.
  2.  Consider the potential harm involving a change to the state constitution’s protection from age discrimination. This is no small matter since projections show that in the next few years about one third of all New Yorkers between 65 and 75 will be in the workforce.
  3. Just as important, the state constitution guarantees an 8 hour workday, minimum wage and other Labor protections. These protections are in there because they need to be. People should expect the right to be treated fairly.
  4. Consider the potential harm involving a change to the state constitution’s commitment to provide public relief for the indigent and the aged, including ensuring standards and oversight for residents of nursing facilities. Eliminating these protections could have dire consequences for individuals and our society. In today’s political environment, no one should assume delegates to a Constitutional Convention would act in a spirit of good will and concern for the common good.)
  5. Defined Benefit Public Employee pensions could be adversely affected. This would not simply affect pension beneficiaries, it could also have unintended consequences that cost taxpayers. Currently more than 80 percent of public employee retirees continue to live and pay taxes in New York and public pensions contribute over $35 billion to the NYS economy. Diminishing benefits could both affect taxes collected and drive up social safety net costs as seniors struggle to make ends meet.

This is a dangerous time in our state and nation’s history. People need to understand what is at risk by opening up the state constitution and should vote no.

 

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