Supplemental information to published column “So much for representative government!”

In Other Resources by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

Lost in transition.   

From paragraph five:

On the Legislative level, consider the following. Three bills were approved that would amend the state constitution (1) limits the amount of money the governor would spend in any given fiscal year (2) requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature in order to increase any state taxes or fees (3)denies pension rights or retirement benefits upon conviction of a felony related to public employment. End of story. Bi-partisan support hardly mattered, intent was lost in the abyss of legal and other considerations without any further explanation by those involved and no one seems the least bit concerned. I am!  You should be!  We are being gamed and we have no idea why. So much for what the founding fathers had in mind.

Legislation voted on:

One: Limits the amount of money the governor could spend in any fiscal year

BILL NUMBERS:  S-1892-2011

SPONSOR:  State Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer – (R,C,IP) 61st Senate District

TEXT: New Section 7 a limits state fiscal year spending the lesser of 120% of the inflation rate or 2%, and repeals Section 17 of Article VII,  and adds a new Section 17 requiring revenues in excess of the state spending limitation to be deposited into a tax stabilization reserve fund. Remaining revenues are to be returned to New York resident taxpayers in proportion to their personal income tax liability.

EXISTING LAW : No limitations as to how much state spending may increase from year to year.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this legislation is to ensure state fiscal discipline by constitutionally limiting the percentage of growth from fiscal year to fiscal year in the state’s budget.

JUSTIFICATION: By all measures, the tax burden on New Yorkers is among the highest in the nation. Unchecked growth in spending from one fiscal year to the next serves only to increase the tax burden on New Yorkers. By limiting the amount of annual growth in the state’s budget, New York can check the growth of government and the attendant tax burden on its citizens.


FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Savings to the state from an improved budget process.


Referred to Finance – 1/14/11

To Attorney General for Opinion – 1/14/11

Passed Senate 1/19/11

Referred to Judiciary 2/2/11

Referred to Finance – 1/1/12

To Attorney General for Opinion 1/9/12

Referred to Judiciary 2/8/12

EFFECTIVE DATE:  In conformity with Section 1 of Article 19 of the constitution, be published for voter approval three months prior to the next general election.



Two: Requires a ‘Super-Majority “ vote to Raise Taxes and Fees.

Bill Number: S 1919-2012

SPONSOR: State Senator Lee M. Zeldon (R,C,IP) 3rd Senate District.

LAW SECTION: State Constitutional Amendment.

PURPOSE: Taxes are the most important issue plaguing the Third Senate District on Long Island, and in New York State. In the past two years, the New York State Legislature has increased taxes and fees by $14 billion. Raising taxes should be the last resort, not a first option.

INTENT: Requires a 2/3rd ‘Super-Majority’ vote in both houses in order to increase any state tax or fee. Approved , with a vote of 41-19 in favor. Sent to the Assembly, for approval.

IMPLICATIONS:Ensures broad-based bipartisan support


Three:  Amend Section 7 Article 5 of the state constitution by stipulating that any state officer or local officer convicted of a felony involving breach of public trust be subject to forfeiture of pension rights or retirement benefits.


S- 1133

SPONSOR:  Assemblyman  David Buchwald – District 93

DATE: May 3, 2013To be referred to the first regular legislative session convening after the next succeeding general election of members of the assembly, and in conformity with section 1 of article 19 of the constitution, be published for 3 months previous to the time of such elect ion.

Justification: Currently New York State has no policy regardless of how serious the offense may be. Currently New York’s Retirement and Social Security Law protects benefits at public expense.

Current law: Numerous bills have been introduced in past legislative sessions that seek to revoke or reduce entitlements because none to date contend with the contractual relationship of a public pension under the constitution, constitutionality is in question. Article 5 Section 7 of the constitution sets out a two-part articulation of the public pension right.  First, membership in a retirement system is a contractual relationship. The second, because of that relationship, pension benefits cannot be reduced or impaired. Therefore, it is likely that the proposals are unconstitutional.    .



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