By Brad Gerstman
As everyone is aware, the people of New York are facing a year end deficit of over 3 billion and a double digit BILLION dollar structural deficit in the next budget year.
Of course our economy is the major source of pain. Tax revenues have been thin and nobody expects a significant turnaround for quite a while.
There is no question that State spending has to be curtailed extensively. Our government spending cannot be sustained which is why the Legislature and Governor have proposed a number of ideas, good and not so good, of areas to make cuts. A number of these areas include very emotional and lightning rod issues, such as education, health care, police, individuals with disabilities and the like.
The people of New York State must brace themselves to face such drastic measures. However, there is a way to avoid the drastic cuts that the Governor and Legislature are discussing. There is a way to increase New York State’s revenue substantially which will reduce the needed cuts that will impact us all.
The State is losing nearly 2 billion dollars a year in tax revenue due to ILLEGAL sales of untaxed cigarettes from the Native American reservations to the general public. These ILLEGAL sales have been putting stores that sell legally and fully taxed cigarettes out of business. These ILLEGAL sales occur via the internet and bootleggers in the black market.
Why are we not pulling together to compel our Governor to enforce the law? It is well settled law that these sales from the Reservations are in fact ILLEGAL. Why do we permit ILLEGAL activities by one group and enforce laws against everyone else? I will tell you the reason is because the Native Americans have openly declared war on NY State if we enforce the law against their ILLEGAL activity. Do we back off drug dealers because they are dangerous? Why would we back off Native Americans that threaten us and force our elected officials to make cuts to many necessary services in our State, some of which the Native Americans benefit from as well.
Let’s collect the nearly 2 billion dollars in tax revenue that we desperately need to avoid the draconian cuts that will be coming down the pike.
Brad Gerstman is a partner at Gotham Government Relations