A costly Con Con
Proposition 1 has caused quite a bit of fervor this year. It’s probably the most talked about item on the ballot in recent memory. It’s not like Proposition 2 that proposes to allow the courts to revoke the government pensions of elected officials convicted of a felony while in office; or Proposition 3 that allows to reserve 250 acres of forest that will help municipalities manage the delivery of important services provided by various utilities to communities. They are both no-brainer ‘yes’ votes. Proposition 1, which calls for a constitutional convention – a Con Con as it is sometimes referred to – is a whole different story. The voter should be well versed in what that decision would mean for the state before heading to the polls. That said, the decision should be a resounding no.
Here are some of the points to be considered. First, it’s the cost. Though no one is certain of exactly how much will be spent, it has been widely estimated to cost the state between $47 million dollars to upwards of hundreds of millions. That cost includes: the election process for the 204 delegates required for the convention; the cost of training each delegate, traveling and other expenses for the representative; as well as their staff and a salary of $79,500 for each delegate.
Proponents have said that this opportunity, which is only entertained every 20 years, would provide average individuals within the community with a voice in policy making and changes to policy on the state level. But isn’t that what our elected officials in the Senate and the Assembly do? They’ve already managed to amend the Constitution more than 200 times since it was rewritten in 1894.
Those wishing to be a delegate must go through the same process to be elected as any other politician, including garnering signatures to be on the ballot, and then they must raise campaign funds. Unlike their official counterparts though, the money they garner is not as closely scrutinized, so special interest groups could buy a say in any changes proposed at the convention. Furthermore, though meant for the average citizen, there is nothing that prohibits legislators from running as a delegate and doubling their salary for their participation, which is basically something they already get paid to do. That’s insane.
And then, after the convention, the proposed changes will still have to go back to the public for a vote. That will take up more time and money. After the last Con Con in 1967, voters rejected every one of the propositions that came out of it. How’s that for a waste of time and money?
Aside from the cost, many organizations, unions and educational institutions are worried what changes could occur that would affect their quality of life. When that quality is tied to benefits in the form of health insurance and pensions that is a big cause of worry.
Remember that the most important decision to be made next Tuesday is to actually get out and vote. However, what everyone should be asking themselves before voting on Proposition 1 is this: Do we really need another governing body to make changes to our Constitution when we already have paid legislators that we vote into office to do that? And, do we really need the added expense of holding such an assembly?
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