New York State is known widely – and legitimately – as one of the worst run states in America. Taxes are among the highest in the nation. New York ranks number one in highest total tax burden at nearly 13 percent, and individual income tax burden. When it comes to education, the average per student expenditure across the country in 2015–16 fall enrollment was $11,787; New York spent $21,606 – 83 percent higher than the average. New York State teachers receive the highest average salaries in the nation. And for all this largesse how does New York rank against the other states in pre-K through 12 grade? Number 23. Tops in spending – middle of the pack in results.
You want to visit a state park, drive on a highway, cross a bridge, stay in a hotel – be ready to open your wallet. It now costs $15 to cross the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan. If you’re stupid enough to smoke, you’ll pay $4.35 a pack in taxes – highest in the nation. New York City bumps it another $1.50. Gasoline taxes are 42.6 cents a gallon – third highest in the country.
More than any other state New York is the capital of political corruption. In just the past few years New York has seen a rogues gallery of so-called leaders go to prison and/or resign in disgrace, including Assembly Speaker (Sheldon Silver), Senate Majority Leader (Dean Skelos), The Majority Leader before him (Joe Bruno), Governor (Elliot Spitzer), Congressmen (Anthony Wiener, Michael Grimm), Comptroller (Alan Hevesi), and many more.
Some might argue that poverty-stricken states like Alabama or Tennessee are worse places to live – but damn, at least the people there get what they pay for. Tennessee ranks number 48 in total tax burden, so it should be expected that quality of life may suffer. But New York? Given the table stakes, you’d expect a personal podiatrist to come to your house three times a week to polish your calluses.
Today, Election Day, New Yorkers have the opportunity to vote “yes” on authorizing a Constitutional Convention. Such an opportunity comes but once every 20 years – the last time the state convened a “Con Con” was in 1967. The purpose is to allow voters to consider the state of their state, and if they conclude things need some tweaking to stunt corruption or straighten out finances, they can order a review and subsequent amendment of the constitution.
As you probably suspect, the current constitution contains a lot of stuff that would be better off in legislation. And that the state’s current status as worst run in the U.S. is an artifact of the clunky constitution.
Yet, all signs point to the electorate voting against the rare opportunity to reform the state. Apparently many people worry that the convention will be a waste of money (can’t have that going on in our state!) Others are afraid that special interests enshrined in the constitution may get scrubbed out during a convention.
But to us at Major Terata, the idea that we’re not long overdue to convene a Con Con is flat out stone cold stupid.
It’s like a terminally ill patient with three months to live refusing an experimental cure because it might make him worse.
Can’t Think of a Better Reason
In 1985, Vernon Madison killed a man in Alabama and was sentenced to death (yes, Vernon is still alive 32 years later.) Now that the day of reckoning is closing in on Vernon, The New York Times reports that his lawyers are asking the court to stay the execution because their client can’t remember doing the crime.
After being booted about in lower courts, the Supreme Court decided against Vernon Madison, allowing the execution to proceed.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer described Mr. Madison’s current condition: “He is legally blind. His speech is slurred. He cannot walk independently. He is incontinent.”
Shit, Steve-o – you just made the best case for putting Ole Vernon down.