More People Are Supporting A “People’s Convention To Reform New York” – Are You One Of Them?

Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
September 11, 2009

A research bulletin released earlier this week by the independent, non-partisan Empire Center for New York State Policy reported that the 2010-11 State Budget deficit has likely more than doubled and the forecasted fiscal shortfalls for 2012 and 2013 will swell even further, largely due to an unsustainable growth in state government spending. When you add this alarming revelation to the fact that New York already leads the nation in having some of the highest property taxes, energy, workers’ comp, transportation, legal and pension costs, the case for a much-needed course correction in our state is crystal clear.

One of the best ways to affect the real reform and positive change needed in state government is through convening a “People’s Convention to Reform New York.” Since I first called for a People’s Convention a few weeks ago, support for this non-partisan, grassroots reform effort has continued to build. For this week’s legislative column, I would like to update you on the latest developments surrounding my call for a People’s Convention to Reform New York and provide answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding what you can do to make real reform and positive change a reality.

First, I officially introduced non-partisan legislation – the “People’s Convention to Reform New York Act” – to ensure this reform effort becomes law and goes before voters in the 2010 elections, a full seven years before it would automatically happen. My legislation has already received the support of over 30 Assembly Members and is now co-sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, who represents the 145th District, located in Western New York. Assemblyman Schroeder is a legislator unafraid to cross party lines in support of a good idea and understands that the cause of real reform and positive change cannot wait. I recently appeared on a Buffalo radio program with Assemblyman Schroeder where we advocated for passage of my non-partisan legislation and urged greater bi-partisan cooperation in the state Legislature to forge real solutions to the serious challenges facing New York State.

Second, our on-line petition has received a fantastic response from New Yorkers across all regions of the state. Keep in mind that we exceeded 1,000 backers in less than two weeks’ time! Such a strong showing of grassroots, non-partisan support demonstrates that a People’s Convention to Reform New York is an idea whose time has finally arrived and that many people are ready to demand reform.

Third, I have contacted numerous organizations asking that they support a People’s Convention to Reform New York and my non-partisan legislation.

Non-partisan, good-government groups and advocacy organizations that I have reached out to include: the Empire Center; Business Council of New York State; National Federation of Independent Business; Unshackle Upstate; Citizens For a Better New York; New Yorkers for Growth; Citizens Budget Commission; New York Public Interest Research Group; the League of Women Voters; Common Cause; New York State Association of Counties; Association of Towns of the State of New York and the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials.

Additionally, I have sent letters to local elected officials, of all political parties, recognized academic scholars and state constitutional law experts, as well as regional grassroots taxpayer groups to enlist them in this important reform effort.

The following are some ideas for how you can aid the cause of a People’s Convention to Reform New York and, in the process, achieve fiscal and governmental reforms, including a state spending and property tax cap; debt reform; banning backdoor borrowing; requiring term limits for legislative leaders; non-partisan redistricting and a succession plan for state government.

WRITE YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS: Sending letters, faxes and e-mails to elected officials – at all levels of government – builds awareness and non-partisan support for a People’s Convention. When writing your local officials, ask them to enact a resolution in support of the People’s Convention to Reform New York Act;

SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Letters to the editor are a highly effective way to share your views and publicly make the case for a People’s Convention. The best part is, this service is 100 percent free and most daily and weekly newspapers welcome such letters;

CALL TALK RADIO: National, regional and local talk radio programs are a terrific way to ensure the voice of the people – your voice – is heard loud and clear in the corridors of power;

SIGN MY ON-LINE PETITION: If you have not yet done so, go to the Web site and add your name to the growing list of New Yorkers who want a more accountable and responsive state government. While you are there, check out our “FAQ” section for more information on the People’s Convention to Reform New York; and

STAND UP AND SPEAK OUT FOR REFORM: In our democracy, the people have the power – when you stand up and speak out for what you believe, elected officials listen. If you want a People’s Convention, spread the word at diners, coffee shops, barbershops, neighborhood association meetings, on-line forums, and anywhere people regularly share opinions.

Every day, more New Yorkers who want to change the status quo and reverse New York’s drift are joining the grassroots movement to reform state government. Will you be one of them?

As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at