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October 31, 2013

Ballot proposals deserve your vote

The Daily Star
The Daily Star

---- — Most area residents are probably aware that Tuesday will determine the fate of dozens of candidates for town, city and countywide offices. But the six proposed constitutional amendments also appearing on the ballot have at times flown below the media radar – especially those not related to casino gambling.

Here’s a quick primer on the ballot proposals to get you ready for Election Day:

• Proposal One: Authorizing Casino Gambling. The first proposal on the ballot is also by far the most controversial. Casino gambling, with its varied benefits and drawbacks, is always a thorny topic. But in wording the question like a push-poll, the state Board of Elections shamefully allowed the casino industry to make one last pitch from inside the voting booth.

In the past, we at The Daily Star have been open to casino gambling in New York, but to support this particular measure would send the wrong message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and to industry lobbyists, whose influence saturated this slimy proposal.

• Proposal Two: Additional Civil Service Credit for Veterans with Disabilities Certified Post-Appointment. This is the least-controversial measure on the ballot. If approved, it would give veterans who take the civil-service exam before being certified as disabled another chance to get the civil-service credits to which they’re entitled. Disabled veterans would have more time to get a certification that could help land them a job – and help put their skills to use for state and municipal governments. We approve.

• Proposal Three: Exclusion of Indebtedness Contracted for Sewer Facilities. This proposal would let municipalities exclude debt undertaken to finance sewer facilities from their constitutional debt limits through January 1, 2024. On its face, this appears to be just another example of New York kicking its fiscal can down the road, one that would let today’s officials rack up debt that doesn’t count until tomorrow’s officials take office. But the sewer-indebtedness exclusion has been around since 1963, and is set to expire at the end of 2013. With the state-mandated 2 percent property tax cap constraining local budgets since 2011, this measure would give municipalities flexibility in dealing with the looming fiscal crunch.

• Proposals Four and Five. These measures deal with a disputed land title in the Adirondacks and a mineral mining company that wants to trade land for access to an Essex County forest preserve. Both measures, although important, deal with matters outside of The Daily Star’s coverage area.

• Proposal Six: Increasing Age until which Certain State Judges Can Serve. This proposal would let Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges serve beyond the current retirement age of 70. The judges would be eligible for five additional two-year terms. The age limit, after all, was set back when life expectancy was shorter, and the maturation of the Baby Boomers means a lot of qualified judges will soon be approaching 70. We say, vote to approve.