Editorial: Negotiate tribal tobacco deal in New York
"The conciliatory side of Gov. Paterson hasn't always played out to the state's benefit. For example, he gave in too readily last spring on the budget, an error he gamely has tried to fix by pushing for more cuts and ordering lawmakers back for a special session.

But his empathetic style — very unlike that of the steamrolling Gov. Spitzer and the often detached Gov. Pataki — may work well in dealing with one of the state's thorniest problems: collecting taxes on cigarettes and other products sold on Native American lands to non-Indian customers.

The courts have upheld the state's right to the money, as these tax-free sales in effect extend sovereignty to those who have no claim to it. But the tribes — the upstate Senecas, in particular — have resisted any collection scheme and both Spitzer and Pataki feared violence if the state pushed the issue unilaterally.

There's a lot of money involved — some estimates exceed $1 billion — and this year's state budget unwisely factors in millions in taxes gotten from Indian smoke shops. That was pie-in-the-sky financing, and both Paterson and the Legislature knew it."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Gov. Paterson's style could forge Indian tax deal (The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle 9/2)

Another Story:
Rally to back taxes on Indian cigarettes (The Syracuse Post-Standard 9/3)

Related Stories:
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe opposes tobacco tax bill (8/26)
Seneca Nation lobbies governor on tobacco tax bill (8/14)
Seneca Nation opposes tobacco tax bill (8/12)