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State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli addresses SUNY New Paltz Local members as CSEA statewide, region and local officers, including Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo (nearest podium) and Statewide Treasurer Bill Walsh (far right), look on.

NEW PALTZ — Our state pension system is strong and sustainable, but the vote this November on a state Constitutional Convention could lead to irreparable changes that would hurt CSEA members and retirees and negatively affect our state’s economy.

That’s the message State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli had for CSEA members working at SUNY New Paltz when he visited campus recently and attended the local’s general membership meeting as a special guest.

The meeting was a chance for members to hear firsthand from DiNapoli, who serves as the primary steward of our pension funds, which have grown in value during his tenure despite instability on Wall Street. DiNapoli offered reassurance about the stability of the New York State and Local Retirement System (NYSLRS) and explained why a Constitutional Convention would be a bad deal for all New Yorkers.

Joining DiNapoli in greeting members were CSEA Statewide Treasurer Bill Walsh, Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo and SUNY New Paltz Local President Anthony Adamo.

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CSEA Statewide Treasurer Bill Walsh, left, addresses SUNY New Paltz Local members as Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo and SUNY New Paltz Local President Anthony Adamo look on.

“The state constitution protects our pensions and many more of our rights as New Yorkers,” Walsh said. “Our pensions are not a gift or a benefit; they are a right. We have earned our pensions. A constitutional convention could jeopardize our pensions and so much more. We simply can’t afford a constitutional convention.”

“Comptroller DiNapoli was very generous in taking time to come to New Paltz and explain to our members firsthand what is at stake,” Riccaldo said. “He engaged our members and educated them so they left the meeting both informed and fired up. They were equipped to explain to their family, friends and co-workers what is at stake with this Constitutional Convention vote.”

Those one-on-one conversations are a crucial part of getting all New Yorkers to make an informed choice on Election Day.

“Because it’s been 20 years since we last voted on this issue, many of our members had forgotten about it or were completely unaware because they weren’t CSEA members in 1997,” said Adamo, who also serves as statewide Political Action Committee chair. “It’s important that every local and unit, no matter how large or small, meet personally with members to talk about the Constitutional Convention. We have activists and staff who are working hard to raise awareness and are more than willing to come out to work sites and membership meetings.”

Local and unit presidents interested in having a CSEA representative speak with their members about the upcoming Constitutional Convention vote should contact their region’s political action coordinator.

– Jessica Ladlee and Jill Asencio

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