A week after the Saratoga Springs City Council urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to restore millions of dollars to the city and county for hosting video lottery terminals, local state legislators have promised action on the issue.
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, has introduced a bill that would repeal the changes made to the VLT aid formula under the 2009-2010 budget and cost the city and county of Saratoga their share of VLT revenue, $3.3 million and $1.1 million respectively. Tedisco’s proposal would stop that from repeating in the next fiscal year. The money had come as aid from the state for hosting Saratoga Casino and Raceway.
Tedisco said the state’s actions in eliminating that support were punishing responsible municipalities to patch up its own budget holes.
“It is the definition of mismanagement on the state level and it represents geographic discrimination,” he said. Tedisco noted that other upstate regions only lost about 50 percent of the revenue they were due in similar circumstances and in downstate, Yonkers didn’t suffer any losses.
State Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, said he supported Tedisco’s proposed legislation and voiced support for any measure that would ensure Saratoga Springs received the money for hosting VLTs.
Michael Veitch, a McDonald spokesman, said the senator had opposed the changes to the formula that resulted in the denial of funds. He acknowledged that Saratoga Springs may have gotten short shrift on this issue because the focus in 2010 was to guarantee the horse racing meet, which was in doubt at the time. He added that McDonald was working to create legislation in the same vein as Tedisco’s, but possibly not a companion bill.
While a previous version of Tedisco’s proposal never got out of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, he expressed optimism for the bill’s future because Republicans regained control of the state Senate. He suggested that a compromise could be in the works.
“We need to harness the strength of the majority in the senate,” said Tedisco. To that end, Tedisco said he would be working closely with McDonald and state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna. He said, “They worked very hard last year to get the funding.”
Tedisco’s legislation is Assembly Bill 1500 and it is has been referred to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, but it has not yet been scheduled for any action. Follow the bill at http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menuf.cgi.