We’ve already come out in support of proposals 4 and 5, the Adirondack land swap amendments, and in support of the gaming amendment that would allow the siting of seven casinos in upstate New York.
Now we want to address the ballot’s remaining three proposals:
— Proposal 6: Increasing the age until which certain judges can serve
If this proposal applied to all of the state’s judges instead of a select few, and included mandatory fitness assessments every two years, as the state Bar Association has recommended, we’d be in favor of it.
But this proposal, which would raise the maximum age for certain judges from 70 to 80, is a mash of compromises and contradictions and doesn’t deserve support. Voters should wait for a more comprehensive and comprehensible proposal.
Prop. 6 would amend the state Constitution to allow judges on the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to stay in their posts past the mandatory retirement age of 70 while finishing a 14-year term, but not past the age of 80.
Prop. 6 would also increase to 80 the maximum age for Supreme Court justices, in increments of two years. Now, Supreme Court justices can serve until 70, but can have their terms extended in three two-year increments, after a mandatory fitness assessment. The proposal would allow for five two-year extensions.
We think the argument is well taken that people live much longer now than when the retirement age of 70 was established in the late 1800s. Take one look at the U.S. Supreme Court — Antonin Scalia, 77; Anthony Kennedy, 77; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 80; Stephen Breyer, 75 — and you will see how capable judges older than 70 can be.
But why lift the age limit for some judges and not others? And why require some judges be certified as fit to serve, but allow others to serve past 70 without certification?
We like the position taken by the New York State Bar Association, which, in 2007, resolved all state judges be allowed to serve until 76, with certification at two-year intervals after 70. That would ensure experienced and still-effective judges could serve longer, while providing a mechanism for the retirement of judges no longer able to handle the workload.
The state needs judges, and we need not kick out people who are still functioning at a high level. But any lifting of the retirement age should be uniform in its application and inclusion of a mandatory fitness review. Prop. 6 does not fulfill these criteria and should be defeated.
— Proposal 2: Additional civil service credit for veterans with disabilities certified post-appointment
This amendment would clear up an unfairness in the way extra civil service credit is granted to veterans certified as disabled.
Now, veterans get additional credit on civil service exams and disabled veterans get even more additional credit. But, because veterans are only eligible for one grant of extra credit, a veteran certified as disabled after a civil service appointment misses out on the extra credit he or she would have gotten for the disability.
This amendment would create an exception to the one-time extra credit rule, allowing veterans certified as disabled after a civil service appointment or promotion to receive another grant of extra credit.
Little or no opposition to this proposal has surfaced, and why would it? This is a simple matter of fairness and deserves a yes vote from everyone.
— Proposal 3: Exclusion of indebtedness contracted for sewage facilities
We support this amendment with some hesitation, recognizing exceptions to debt rules tend to be extended indefinitely, in the same way taxes billed as temporary tend to become permanent.
The state Constitution was first amended in 1962 to allow counties, cities, towns and villages to exclude from their constitutional limits debt incurred for work on sewage facilities.
The exception was passed in the context of widespread pollution in the 1960s and was meant to make it easier for municipalities to clean up water supplies. Since then, it has been extended in 10-year
increments because clean water problems have persisted statewide and because no one had the gumption to force a statewide belt-tightening.
We recommend a yes vote on Prop. 3, on the grounds that, with the state tax cap in force and revenues depressed statewide, municipalities would be unable to bear any extra pressure on their budgets.
Prop. 3 will extend the debt exclusion to 2014, at which time, if municipalities are in a generally stronger fiscal position than they are now, it should be allowed to come to an end.
Editorial endorsements represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle, Controller Brian Corcoran and citizen representative Vincent Palacino.