Niagara Gazette

February 1, 2009

EDITORIAL: Let’s leave Senecas alone

Gov. David Paterson has been an Albany insider long enough to have learned this lesson from other governors: Leave the Senecas alone.

To generate more tax revenue in one of the most taxed states in the U.S., Paterson signed a law that requires wholesalers who supply Indian smokeshops to certify they are in compliance with state tax laws. This means taxing cigarette sales to non-Indian customers.

This law isn’t the answer.

During the latest legal round, State Supreme Court Justice Rose Sconiers extended a temporary restraining order she imposed Dec. 24.

It’s likely the state will appeal, according to Assistant Attorney General Darren Longo.

Instead, what the New York lawmakers should do is repeal the law.

That’s right ... forfeit the revenue, strike it from the books and look at other ways to run New York more efficiently without raising taxes.

Oh ... and an apology to the Native American community wouldn’t hurt either.

The law really won’t hurt most major smokeshop owners — who have made their money. It’ll hurt the workers who are struggling to make ends meet and rely on their smokeshop paycheck. It’ll moderately hurt the people who are saving big bucks on smokes and a few dollars on gasoline.

Let’s be honest. In Niagara County, would you drive out to the Tuscarora Reservation just to make purchases that would cost you the same as at a neighborhood store? Not likely.

In the past, this debate has turned violent.

Today, Seneca leaders are threatening to collect $2-per-vehicle tolls on the New York State Thruway where it runs through the tribe’s Cattaraugus reservation.

Let’s hope Paterson learns a valuable lesson from his predecessors and packs it up.ꏀ