Nearly 800,000 unemployed New Yorkers, projected multi-billion dollar budget deficits, exploding public pension costs, the nation’s worst state business tax climate and the fourth-highest property taxes on owner-occupied housing. These are just some of the momentous challenges facing New York that Assembly Republican Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) cited in speaking before the Rockland Business Association this afternoon. Kolb said the obstacles facing New York are so enormous, so daunting, that a “People’s Constitutional Convention” is the “game changer” needed to fix our broken state government.
Kolb was invited to address the Rockland Business Association (RBA) during its Annual Meeting and General Membership Luncheon. The RBA serves as the “voice” of business in Rockland County with its 1,000 member businesses and supports Kolb’s call for the convening of a non-partisan People’s Constitutional Convention.
“A ‘People’s Constitutional Convention’ provides the best opportunity to make the types of sweeping, non-partisan changes needed to fix New York’s broken state government. It could literally be the ‘game changer’ New York needs,” Kolb said.
“From pension reform to establishing an independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, these are the comprehensive changes that everybody but the protectors of Albany’s broken status quo realize must be made. A People’s Convention would take the power out of Albany’s hands and put it with the people so change can finally happen,” Kolb stated.
The People’s Convention is a grassroots, non-partisan reform effort that would empower citizens to take back their state government by making much-needed fiscal and government reforms that New York urgently needs. Fiscal reforms that could be considered by citizen delegates to a People’s Convention include property tax relief, a state spending cap, pension reform, debt reform, along with a ban on “backdoor” borrowing and Albany’s unfunded mandates.
Government reforms such as initiative and referendum, the creation of an independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, enactment of term limits for Legislative Leaders, ethics reform and a succession plan for state offices could also be taken up during a People’s Convention.
In 2009, Kolb introduced “The People’s Convention to Reform New York Act,” Assembly Bill A.9157. If enacted, the non-partisan legislation would put the question of whether New York should convene a “People’s Convention” on the 2011 ballot; by law, the question automatically goes before voters in 2017. The non-partisan measure, which has 34 Assembly sponsors, would move up the opportunity for reform by six years. To ensure that a People’s Convention is not populated by political insiders, the legislation specifically requires that any elected official seeking to run as a delegate for, or serve in, the Convention first resign their office.
“Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Unfortunately, state government has come to exemplify that definition as it continues to tax, regulate, spend and borrow like there is no tomorrow, yet expresses surprise when private sector employers leave New York. Albany’s fiscal insanity has driven businesses away and put our private sector economy into the ditch,” said Al Samuels, President and CEO of the Rockland Business Association.
“The Rockland Business Association supports Leader Kolb’s call for a People’s Constitutional Convention because we recognize the time for half measures or merely nibbling around the edges of reform has long passed. Our state, our economy and our private sector employers need the real change that only a People’s Convention could deliver,” Samuels stated.
“I want to thank Al Samuels and the RBA membership for their strong support of the People’s Constitutional Convention. Al and the RBA have been true leaders when it comes to strengthening New York’s private sector, rebuilding our economic base and advocating for public policies that will make the Empire State a less costly, more affordable place to live, work and start a business,” Kolb stated.
Kolb’s remarks at RBA’s luncheon were the latest in his ongoing effort to promote the need for a People’s Constitutional Convention. From December 2009 to September 2010, Kolb conducted Town Hall meetings and forums throughout the state aimed at building grassroots support for the Convention. Events were held in Elmira; Canisteo; Patchogue; Hicksville; Verona; Binghamton; Huntington Station; Hamburg; Hudson; East Fishkill; Penn Yan; Queensbury; Plattsburgh; Rotterdam; Cornwall; Amsterdam; New Paltz and Seneca Falls.
Kolb indicated that the non-partisan, grassroots effort has already received the endorsement of 50 local governments and community organizations statewide, as well as over 2,400 citizens. A complete listing of People’s Constitutional Convention supporters is available at www.reformny.org.