ALBANY — Voters will decide whether to make three changes to New York State’s constitution on Election Day. Massachusetts voters will also decide on four potential changes. Proposal One would change how the state creates new legislative districts. Today, the legislature creates district lines. Some critics argue it led to gerrymandering to keep incumbents in office. If passed, the state would use an independent commission to draw lines. Opponents argue it doesn’t go far enough because the commission is made up of appointees from elected officials. Proponents say it goes a long way to reform.
“If you want pure independence then God would have to appoint them, other than that this is a political system so we look for degrees of separation and actually we think that’s what we accomplished here,” said Barbara Bartoletti with the League of Women Voters.
Proposal Two would make the legislature nearly paperless. Currently, lawmakers are required to get a physical copy of every bill. Asm. Jim Tedisco proposed allowing lawmakers to get an electronic copy with the option to print.
“Not only has it been supported unanimously twice because to make a change you have to have it supported by two bodies, but not one negative phone call from any of my constituents and that’s virtually unheard of. This has broad based support that would make us more efficient, save us $53 million, and protect our forest land. I don’t think you could ask for more,” said Tedisco.
Proposal Three would authorize issuing up to $2 billion bond. The money would go to improving technology in classrooms and for technology-based school security. The Empire Center argues it would could about $500 million in interest. It also said the Board of Regents requested a $1 million increase in technology spending before the State of the State. Proponents argued it would help bring needed upgrades to rural and high-need districts.
“Schools are in dire need of resources and it varies greatly throughout the state, so at this point in time we have TO prepare our students first to function in the 21st century to be able to be competitive and regarding a bond over 30 years, there are many changes that take place and certainly as the economy grows stronger there are other ways to look to fund that bond,” said Karen Magee, President of NYSUT.
In Massachusetts, voters will decide on four changes. The first would eliminate a requirement that the state’s gas tax be adjusted every year according to the consumer price index. The second would expand the state’s beverage container deposit to all non-alcoholic, non-carbonated drinks. The third would change the definition of illegal gaming to include casino gaming and wagering on the simulcasting of live greyhound races. Proposal Four would entitle employees to earn and use sick time in certain situations. As a reminder, many proposals are printed on the back of ballots.
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