New York's Broken Constitution
The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness
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Examines the significant gaps between what New York State’s constitution says and how the state is actually governed and offers ideas for reform.
On its face, New York State's constitution is an elaborate and impressive aggregation of processes, powers, mandates, and limits. But many of these are "inoperative," and New Yorkers who read the document and believe what it says will come away with a massive misunderstanding of the realities of state government. The essays in New York's Broken Constitution seek to clarify the realities by bringing attention to the gaps between what the constitution says and how the state is actually governed, and they provide a disquieting picture of the state of the state's constitution. Among the topics addressed are state debt and budgeting practices, legislative redistricting, local government, gambling, conservation, and the process of amending the constitution. Written by knowledgeable professionals, the chapters explain the constitutional provisions in question, including the reasons for their constitutional status; how they have been used and interpreted; and the extent of the gaps between the constitutional provisions and practice. Various proposals for reform are also examined.
Peter J. Galie is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Canisius College. Christopher Bopst is Chief Legal and Financial Officer at Sam-Son Logistics. They are the coauthors of The New York State Constitution, Second Edition. Gerald Benjamin is SUNY Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Benjamin Center at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He is coauthor (with Daniel L. Feldman) of Tales from the Sausage Factory: Making Laws in New York State, also published by SUNY Press, and coeditor (with Henrik N. Dullea) of Decision 1997: Constitutional Change in New York.
". ..argue[s] convincingly that New York's Constitution is so riddled with anachronisms and has been so circumvented by legislative exceptions that it finally needs to be overhauled. " — New York Times
". ..this book should … be read by every community leader in New York. " — CHOICE
". ..[a] well-researched and well-written book … I enthusiastically recommend New York's Broken Constitution to voters as they contemplate their decision on calling a constitutional convention. " — Philip Terrie, Adirondack Explorer
"This is an impressive volume, teeming with invaluable insights. It presents a compelling message: since many of the dysfunctions in state governance are inextricably tied to the organizational structures and policies detailed—and sometimes followed, sometimes disregarded—in the state constitution, constitutional reform is imperative. Anyone concerned about the operation and current dysfunction of New York State government should read this book. " — Vincent M. Bonventre, Albany Law School
"This book will be enormously useful in guiding the public and scholarly debate in the lead-up to the November 2017 vote on the question of whether to hold a state constitutional convention. " — John J. Dinan, author of The American State Constitutional Tradition