Did You Know There Are Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot this November?

The 2023 General Election Day is Tuesday, November 7, 2023. Since it is an odd-numbered year, most races on the ballot will be for local elections. To find a list of the races that are being contested in your area, you can visit here to find information from your local county board of election.

In addition to the local elections, there are two proposed amendments to the New York State Constitution that will be on the ballot this year as statewide voter referendums. Amending the New York State Constitution is a multi-year process. First, the amendment must be introduced as a bill and passed by the Legislature. Then, the amendment must be introduced and passed again by the Legislature, but only after a General Election where the entirety of the Legislature is up for election. Only after the Legislature passes the amendment for a second time will the amendment go on the ballot for a statewide voter referendum. If the amendment is approved by a majority of voters, it will be incorporated into the Constitution.

The first amendment on the ballot this year relates to debt limitations on small city school districts. Small city school districts are those with less than 125,000 inhabitants. Per the State Constitution, small city school districts may only borrow up to 5% of their total property wealth. Other school districts may borrow up to 10% of their property wealth. This proposed amendment would allow small city school districts to match their rural and suburban counterparts and borrow up to 10% of their property wealth. The amendment passed both the Assembly and Senate in 2022 and 2023 with overwhelming margins of support.

The second constitutional amendment would allow municipalities to exclude from their debt limits indebtedness for the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities until 2034. Under the New York State Constitution, municipalities have a debt limit set as a percentage of the five-year average full valuation of taxable property within a municipality. Construction on sewage facilities is expensive and puts municipalities in danger of exceeding the constitutional debt limit. Like the first amendment, this constitutional amendment passed both houses in 2022 and 2023 with overwhelming margins of support.

If you have additional questions about this update, please contact a member of the HSE Government Affairs practice group for assistance.

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