Lowville, NY - Do you want to keep New York State moving in the right direction?
That was the question Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) posed at a Town Hall meeting he convened at the Lowville Municipal Building this evening. Kolb discussed his support for a "People's Convention to Reform New York" and described how it could deliver positive change for all New Yorkers. Kolb was joined and introduced by his colleague, Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C-Black River), who co-hosted the meeting.
"Thanks to taxpayers like you, Albany has finally begun to change course," Kolb said. "Although New York had its first early State Budget in recent memory and despite some legislative accomplishments, we have miles to go before we can truly say that our state government is back on track and headed in the right direction. We still pay the second-highest combined state and local tax burden in the nation. Nearly 800,000 New Yorkers are still unemployed. State government is still too big, too costly and too bureaucratic. Bottom line - there is still much work that needs to be done!"
Kolb explained that the People's Convention to Reform New York is a grassroots, non-partisan reform effort to empower citizens so they can take back their state government and, in the process, chart a positive, new direction for the Empire State. Some of the issues that could be considered during a People's Convention include fiscal reforms like a state spending cap, debt reform, as well as a ban on "backdoor" borrowing and unfunded mandates.
Along with fiscal reforms, governmental reforms such as initiative and referendum, establishment of an independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, enactment of term limits for Legislative Leaders and a succession plan for state offices could be taken up during a People's Convention.
Kolb also discussed the non-partisan legislation, "The People's Convention to Reform New York Act," Assembly Bill A.1262. If enacted, the bill would put the question of whether New York should convene a "People's Convention" on the ballot; by law, this question automatically goes before voters in 2017. The non-partisan measure would move up the opportunity for reform by several years, accelerating the state's ability to enact long overdue and much-needed changes. The legislation specifically requires that any elected official seeking to run as a delegate for, or serve in, the People's Convention must first resign their office.
"For the first time in decades, a State Budget was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor before the April 1st deadline," Kolb said. "The enacted spending plan was far from perfect; it involved tough, painful choices that began a long overdue process of reforming Albany's tax-and-spend culture. Nevertheless, the important work of fixing state government - and changing how Albany does the people's business - is nowhere near finished. It is time New Yorkers took their state government back - it begins by convening a 'People's Convention,' which is the first step toward ensuring accountability."
"Families in my district are speaking loud and clear, demanding real reform - not gridlock - in Albany," said Blankenbush. "The North Country has a unique set of strengths and needs. Our communities want to preserve rural landscapes and our agriculture-based economy while capitalizing on opportunities for tourism and trade at our international border. We need an efficient, effective government that is responsive to our local needs. A 'People's Constitutional Convention' will bring this change to the Empire State. I thank Leader Kolb for traveling to the North Country to discuss and explain genuine ideas to improve our state government."
Additional People's Convention Town Hall meetings - similar to the event held in Lowville this evening - have been conducted by Kolb and his colleagues in numerous towns and cities throughout the state, including: Amsterdam, Binghamton, Canandaigua, Canisteo, Cornwall, East Fishkill, Elmira, Fayetteville, Hamburg, Hicksville, Hudson, Huntington Station, Lyons, Mahopac, Mt. Kisco, New Paltz, Niagara Falls, Owego, Patchogue, Penn Yan, Plattsburgh, Queensbury, Rotterdam, Staten Island, and Verona. The non-partisan, grassroots effort has garnered endorsements from numerous communities and organizations statewide, as well as more than 2,500 citizens who have already gone to www.reformny.org and signed the on-line petition in support of a People's Convention.
The Town Hall meeting was held this evening from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Lowville Municipal Building, 5535 Bostwick St. in Lowville, which is located in Blankenbush's 122nd Assembly District that includes parts of Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties.
Kolb's 129th Assembly District is located in the Finger Lakes region and contains Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga, Ontario and Seneca counties.