By Bianca Fortis
On Nov. 5, New Yorkers will have several opportunities to amend the state Constitution when they vote on six proposed ballot measures.
Among the most controversial is a measure that asks voters to “allow the Legislature to authorize and regulate up to seven casinos for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.”
If passed, the measure, which has produced substantial lobbying and political contributions from the gambling industry, would allow the development of seven full-scale casinos throughout New York state.
Opponents say the wording of the measure is misleading and biased and fails to note the negative impacts of gambling, including addiction as well as increased crime.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) believes the amendment could down the road be a potential boost to the Resorts World New York City casino in Ozone Park by allowing it to expand into a full gaming site. The casino currently offers only video lottery terminals.
While most New York City voters would not be interested in visiting a casino, they do support the ballot measures, according to a New York Times/Siena College Poll.Another controversial measure, which will be listed last on the ballot, is the proposal to increase the age until which some state judges can serve. Under current law, the retirement age for a Supreme Court justice is 70. Justices are eligible to apply for three two-year terms after they have reached the age limit. The amendment, if passed, would make justices eligible for five two-year terms so that they may serve until they are 80 rather than 76 under current law.
The amendment would change the age limit for Court of Appeals judges from 70 to 80.
The second measure on the ballot would amend the Constitution to allow veterans to receive additional civil service credit after they have already received credit or a civil service appointment. The measure is designed to help disabled vets get civil service jobs.
The third ballot proposal would allow local municipalities — counties, cities, towns and villages — to continue to exclude the construction of sewage facilities from their debt limit.
A measure currently exists that allows the exclusion of debt until the end of 2013; the new amendment would extend the exclusion for another 10 years.
Ballot Measure 4 would give authorization to the state Legislature to settle a 100-year-old dispute with landowners in Long Lake, N.Y. over 1,000 acres the state says is part of a forest preserve.
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.