- Governor Paterson announced his ideas as to where to cut the budget, and it ain't pretty. Mid-year school cuts, Medicaid, five day furloughs for state workers, wage freezes, SUNY tuition hikes, it's not good. The Times Union's Capital Confidential blog has all the gory details.
The only item related to racing that I saw was a proposed 50% reduction, beginning in the 2009-10 fiscal year, in "VLT Impact Aid" for municipalities (other than, for some reason, Yonkers) which have racinos. That of course is not going down well in Saratoga, where former mayor Valerie Keehn fought hard for the aid, which totaled $3.7 million for 2007. The Saratogian estimates that the cut could mean that the city will lose 5 to 7 percent of its expected revenue for 2009. And though the city doesn't have Joe Bruno around to fight for it anymore, it doesn't intend to take this without a fight.
"As of right now, we’re going to keep it in the budget, and fight to keep this money because we have to cover the expenses of overseeing this property," [Commissioner of Finance Kenneth] Ivins said. "They pulled out the state police, so we have to maintain protection. We have to maintain roads, sewer, water and other infrastructure. A number of local expenses go into that facility, plus it drains our sales tax revenue that would ordinarily go to our local businesses, but go there instead.Another potentially related point is that many Democrats, and their allies, are in favor of a so-called millionaire's tax; a 1% surtax on those making over $1 million a year. Paterson, quite un-Democratically, is staunchly opposed, on the grounds that it would drive wealthy individuals and some businesses out of the state. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a big proponent of the idea; and though he's taken the issue off the table for the coming lame duck session next week, he's made it clear that it will be an option for next year, when the Democrats take control of the Senate. Senator Malcolm Smith, the Perhaps-Majority-Leader-To-Be, also opposes the idea....what kind of Democrats are these guys anyway? However, should Smith come around - because, after all, he will of course go along with the sentiments of his caucus - then that would set up the potential for the sort of horse trading scenario that this reader discusses here. A racino at Belmont, which we suspect Paterson supports, could be amongst the chips that Silver could play to help get the governor to come around on the tax.
"We feel that we deserve these funds," he said. [Saratogian]