New York's Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness

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Peter J. Galie, Christopher Bopst, Gerald Benjamin
SUNY Press, Nov 15, 2016 - Political Science - 340 pages

 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.

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

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I The Care and Maintenance of the State Constitution
II Institutions
III Policies
IV Constitutional Change
Coda Should Voters Approve the 2017 Ballot Proposition Calling for a Constitutional Convention?
List of Contributors
Table of Cases

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About the author (2016)

 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.

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