Rudolph Giuliani to Albany: Constitutional Convention to Fix State Government

Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani makes the case in an op-ed in today’s New York Times for a state constitutional convention to address the state’s economic ills. New York is just behind New Jersey with the second highest state and local tax burden in the nation. And like other ailing states (California and New Jersey), New York is dealing with the recession by hiking taxes.

A constitutional convention would consider the rules and incentives under which the state and its elected officials operate. Giuliani makes seven specific recommendations including reforming the budget process, term limits, and a supermajority vote for tax increases.

The specific proposals he offers are not necessarily silver bullets. For instance, ensuring the budget adheres to generally accepted accounting principles is an excellent idea. A supermajority vote for tax increases may or may not be effective, depending on how it is linked to other rules — such as spending limits.

A strong tax and expenditure limit, like the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) in Colorado, requires that voters approve any spending beyond what population growth and inflation allow.

Giuliani’s proposal is a good one because it gets to heart of the matter: the rules under which elected officials create fiscal policy. New York’s fiscal institutions need review and reform. It is something other states would do well to also consider.