Editorial: State Propositions: Redistricting effort better than nothing; school borrowing doesn’t fill a vital need

| The Buffalo News

Facing voters on Nov. 4 will be Proposal 1: a deceptive and insufficient measure that would change redistricting without requiring lawmakers to give up their pernicious influence over the process.

It doesn’t do all that is needed, but that is unlikely to ever occur. Voters should approve the measure on grounds that it could make matters somewhat better.

The measure creates a redistricting commission dominated by legislative appointees. If the commission’s proposed district lines are twice rejected, lawmakers would take over the process.

But at least the process is open to public influence and the law limits how much lawmakers can change the commission’s proposal. It also prohibits lines drawn to benefit any party or individual.

Lawmakers no doubt expect to game this system. But they would be open not only to court challenge but also to the anger of voters who may become increasingly insulted by legislators’ presumptions. It’s not perfect – not even close – but it’s a chance worth taking. The result won’t be worse than what already occurs.

Voters should have no trouble voting no on Proposal 3 – the enormous Smart Schools Bond Act.

The proposal would allow the state to borrow $2 billion to upgrade technology in schools across the state. The bond also would ensure high-speed Internet connectivity and build classrooms for prekindergarten students.

It may all sound exceedingly helpful, at first blush. But the fact that no one seems to be trumpeting the importance of this “gift” should be a sign that it isn’t a vital need. Touted by the governor in his State of the State address and approved by lawmakers, educational groups are either surprised by the proposal or have taken little to no stand, except to say that if the money is there they will spend it. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

There are high-priority needs in New York State, not the least of which is repairing roads and bridges, that may be worth borrowing for. Sinking the state even deeper into debt to fund like-to-have items is a mistake.

© 2014 The Buffalo News