The Editorial Board, Newsday:
Long Island voters will decide on several ballot propositions in addition to the top-ticket races this upcoming election. Here are Newsday’s recommendations.
State Proposition: Reject NY State proposal on redistricting
New York has an awful method of drawing electoral maps.
The once-a-decade process often produces twisted political boundaries for Assembly, Senate and congressional seats that are an insult to voters, an obstacle to political challengers and a gift to incumbents.
Now voters will decide whether to support the minuscule improvements offered by politicians or hold out for better. The proposal would create a 10-member commission, with Senate and Assembly majority and minority leaders picking two each and those eight picking two more.
Real change was supposed to come with the last redistricting in 2012, based on the 2010 census, with an independent, nonpartisan process. Practically every senator, including Republican leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), committed to such a change, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he would veto maps not created by an independent commission. But when Skelos’ party retook control of the Senate, his pledge went out the window. And Cuomo reneged, approving maps that weren’t created by an independent commission. They defended their changes in position by saying 2012 would mark the last such poorly done redistricting, and by holding up the faux improvements offered in this referendum as fix-alls for future redistricting.
But the system they want to enshrine in the state constitution is neither nonpartisan nor independent. The commission it creates would be chosen mostly by legislative leaders. It would have an even number of members, making stalemates likely. It would demand seven of 10 members be present to meet, meaning four disgruntled members could block meetings. And if lawmakers didn’t like the maps, they would still be able to reject the proposal and draw their own. Legislators would still control electoral lines. We would prefer that the commission not be chosen by people who have a direct stake in the outcome. The goal should be to create competitive elections and districts that better represent community interests.
Iowa and California are states where independent commissions draw the boundaries. We don’t believe the best argument made in favor of the amendment: “It’s the best we can hope for.” New York deserves a truly independent redistricting process. Vote no on proposal No. 1.
State Proposition: Vote yes on electronic versions of bills in Albany
Proposal 2 would help usher the State Legislature into the digital age.
Lawmakers cannot routinely vote on bills until they’ve been printed and made available in final form for at least three days. The idea is to give legislators time to read them. The constitution’s 1938 requirement that they be printed has been taken literally to mean ink on paper.
Proposal 2 would amend the constitution to allow bills to be distributed in electronic form accessible by computer. Albany votes on more than a thousand bills a year. “Printing” them electronically would be more efficient, and the savings should be considerable. Vote yes on proposal No. 2.
State Proposition: Vote no on bond issue for school technology
The New York Bonds for School Technology Act proposition would allow the state to borrow up to $2 billion to modernize technology in schools and build new pre-K classrooms. However, the computer hardware and devices purchased would become obsolete well before taxpayers repaid the debt.
The state should fund technology purchases through annual school appropriations. Such a huge borrowing would bring New York closer to its debt ceiling at a time when there are pressing needs to repair our roads and fund transportiation.
Newsday recomends a no vote.
[Editorial Board, Newsday]