Morelle Lauds Passage of Landmark Districting, Pension Reforms, Teacher Evaluation System

March 15, 2012

Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, D-Irondequoit, hailed last night’s passage of an historic constitutional amendment calling for independent redistricting, which he co-sponsored, adoption of pension reform that will save New York’s property taxpayers tens of billions of dollars and a new system for teacher evaluation and accountability.

The constitutional amendment creates an independent commission to oversee the legislative reapportionment required after each federal census. The commission’s members will not have served in the legislature or with state government for at least three years, and the legislature would only have the power to ratify or reject the commission’s maps, not alter them.

The legislature must approve the measure again next year and send it to voters by referendum before it becomes law.

“This landmark change directly addresses many of the problems that have eroded public faith and trust in state government,” said Morelle. “We have established that the people of New York have the fundamental right to choose who represents them in Albany. I’m honored to have co-sponsored this legislation.”

Morelle also supported pension reform that increases the amount and length of employee payments to the retirement system and is expected to save local governments – and taxpayers – up to $79 billion over the next 30 years.

“The governor has fought hard to restructure state finances and cap property taxes at the local level, and he knows that controlling the cost of pensions is equally essential if we are to make New York a more affordable place for both families and businesses,” Morelle said. “I believe we still have a system that supports and rewards those who give decades of their lives to public service, but which also takes into account the wallets of hard-working New Yorkers and the need to retain and attract employers.

“Nothing has harmed our economy more than high taxation, and without pension reform we will not make meaningful progress on that front,” Morelle said.

The legislature also acted on teacher evaluations, necessary if New York is to receive its $700 million share of the federal Race to the Top education subsidy.

The evaluation system will base 60 percent of a teacher’s review on nationally recognized criteria, with student performance comprising the remaining 40 percent.

“I am grateful to Governor Cuomo for his extraordinary leadership on these issues, and for his commitment to genuine reform and creating a new era of prosperity and opportunity for all New Yorkers,” Morelle said.