One of the nine budget bills on the desks of New York State legislators (only seven actually having been printed in time to be passed by the deadline of March 31) is the Education, Labor and Family Assistance Article VII Bill and Revenue Bill [large, and not very interesting, PDF file]. Like the other eight, it was negotiated entirely in secret amongst the three Democrats in a room. This is the section which contains the racing law, and unaltered is the section which prohibits slots at the "racetracks of the non-profit association known as Belmont Park racetrack and the Saratoga thoroughbred racetrack."
As you may recall, there was a time not long ago when it was thought that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would use slots at Belmont, which he staunchly opposes, as a bargaining chip to obtain something like the "millionaires" tax agreed to by the three leaders, and which the governor had opposed. Now however, it's been widely reported from Albany that Silver is the one calling the shots given Governor Paterson's continued slide in the polls, and Senate Majority Leader Malcom Smith's tenuous hold on his 32-30 majority which includes indicted Senator Hiram Monsaratte (whose explanation of how his girlfriend came to be accidentally slashed by a broken glass reminds me of this classic SNL skit, and boy I wish I could find that one on You Tube!)
So Silver got his tax (subject to approval on the Senate floor), making only minor concessions, and clearly sounding, at least from Nicholas Confessore's account in the Times, like a man comfortably in charge.
However, in a concession to Senate Democrats, Mr. Silver agreed to allow the new taxes to be phased out after three years, rather than the five years he had originally advocated — a time period that would have created enormous political pressure to maintain the increase indefinitely. In a concession to Mr. Paterson, who favored a simpler structure, the three-bracket rate favored by Mr. Silver was reduced to two. [NY Times]So I don't know how much we'll be hearing about Belmont in the short-term, especially once the Aqueduct selection fiasco resumes after the budget is finalized.
- Certainly not surprised upon my return from vacation to see that Democrat Scott Murphy leads the Republican Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco in the latest Siena poll regarding Tuesday's special House election in the 20th CD to replace Senator Gillibrand. Tedisco once led the then-unknown businessman by 12 points, but he has frittered that away with his tacky negative campaign ads and his ridiculous, and clearly failed, attempt to portray Murphy's stated support for the federal stimulus bill as an endorsement of the AIG bonuses. The Democrats are sending in the big guns - a fundraising appeal and a GOTV flyer went out in President Obama's name, and Senator Gillibrand, enormously popular in the region, accompanied Murphy on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Republicans are using Pat Boone.
The poll shows that voters have been turned off by the negative ads by both candidates, but particularly those by Tedisco. "Only 14 percent of those who have seen Tedisco’s commercials are more likely to support him, while 37 percent say the ads make them less likely to support Tedisco (12-28 percent two weeks ago)." Nonetheless, despite those findings, the National Republican Campaign Committee has elected to send in its old standby. That's right, Osama bin Laden himself. Seems that Murphy stated his opposition to the death penalty, even in the case of terrorists, so the obviously desperate GOP rolled out this ad. I think it's fair to say that mostly all of us, Democrats and Republicans not named Rush Limbaugh or Dick Cheney alike, are sick of this crap. Maybe, and hopefully, this ad will actually seal Tedisco's fate. As a commenter on the Times Union's Capital Confidential blog wrote: The NRCC has insisted on putting the nails in Tedisco’s political coffin. I’m expecting a last minute visit from Sarah Palin!