Common Cause NY Statement on the Conclusion of the 2012 Session

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

June 22, 2012


Common Cause NY Statement on the Conclusion of the 2012 Session

Self-congratulatory rhetoric is out of synch with the actual modest achievements of the 2012 Legislative Session. The fact that an on time budget and orderly end of session continue to make headlines in New York shows that our expectations are extraordinarily low.

Now that the 2012 session is over and the 212 legislators have headed home, New Yorkers are still faced with a glaring projected budget gap, local governments cutting or cancelling needed services, high unemployment and homelessness, an outdated minimum wage, an inefficient election administration, and a corrupting campaign finance system.

The 2012 legislative session fell far short of the reform agenda laid out in the Governor’s State of the State address.

Common Cause NY notes the following important proposals which failed to get a hearing, let alone pass the Legislature in 2012:

1. Any kind of campaign finance reform including contribution limits and public financing of elections contained in bills like S3584 and A9885/S7036

2. The Voter Friendly Ballot bill which would improve ballot design and text size to make it easier for voters to read the ballot (A7492D)

3. Any attempt to strengthen a dysfunctional ethics oversight system

4. Proposals to provide the public with easier access to public legislative information online, such as A6879

Redistricting remains the biggest debacle with the most long term consequences.

The Legislature proved incapable of producing non-gerrymandered maps, requiring intervention from the courts which managed to do in weeks what LATFOR could not do in months: draw fair maps for Congress. Unfortunately, the Senate and Assembly maps remain embarrassingly partisan, the result of cynical deal making for matters unrelated.

The final Constitutional Amendment, touted as permanent reform, is a far cry from independent redistricting, with final approval of the maps squarely in the hands of the legislature. This is not reform let alone even an improvement. The so called “independent commission” is not independent at all, but rather a proxy for the Legislature. In the end, this is an attempt to memorialize a system in which both parties run roughshod over the voters. The public and the courts have repeatedly rejected the argument that the benefits of incumbency are so self-evident that incumbents should be aided by a thumb on the scale at the time of reapportionment. Our constitution is designed to protect the public interest, not the self-serving interests of the Legislature.

New Yorkers deserve real permanent reform of the redistricting process, and Common Cause NY is committed to working toward a truly independent process.