Paterson Says Now May Be Time To Collect Cigarette Taxes On Indian Reservations


Gov. David Paterson continued his statewide radio appearances on Tuesday, telling a Syracuse radio station that the state must try to start collecting taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations.

No New York governor, despite vows to the contrary, have been able to stop the tax-free sales or even enforce a law that makes it illegal for wholesalers to supply cigarettes to places that do not collect taxes.

Yet Paterson said that with the state’s economy struggling, it may be time to seek to enforce the law, which Native American reservations have vehemently opposed. The state has estimated collecting about $120 million in the current budget from ending tax-free cigarette sales.

“This is the not the area I know the greatest amount about, but right now because the of economic plight of this state, we are going have to look into trying to collect taxes in those places,” he said when asked about the issue by a caller.

“We’re going to have to because we don’t have really many options and though it is sacred land and not part of New York State government, it interacts with a lot of New York State citizens and in that respect our courts have directed us to follow up and we will try to do that.”

But at the same time, Paterson questioned the state’s decision to increase taxes on cigarettes by $1.25 a pack, saying “I think we were probably pretty superfluous in the tax. I was surprised to see a poll that the public approved of it, and I think unfortunately for smokers the whole industry is to some degree under attack and perhaps it becomes an avenue that public servants know they can get away with because the public doesn’t seem to care.”

Paterson also said his goal is to cut “fat” out of the state budget, saying he wants to shine light on the budget process so lawmakers will have to discuss publicly why they want to spend money on hometown projects.

“If I put together some reasonable proposals for what would really cut a lot of fat out of our budget and then if it’s equally distributed – not that all benefits the Democrats or something like that – that the public would hear me.

“And if the public hears me, we can make enough noise that my own colleagues who know that it’s right and who actually, if it involved the cutting of anything other than what they were interested in, they would agree with then we can get rid of some of this completely self-centered government and replace it with a responsive government.”


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  1. Paterson is barking up the wrong totem pole on that one. That’s sovereign land, and the Indians will have him in Federal Court. As for the rest of his cigarettes comment, Paterson may realize all New York has done with that onerous tax is to create a criminal black market, both organized and not organized.

    But overall he is clueless, talking about more taxes, from whatever source. Cut the spending, and take on the unions. The costs there are overwhelming the state and taxpayers.

  2. So far, he’s proposed eliminating STAR for the elderly, turning the Indian tribes into a state tax collection agency, and taxing the Sunday basket take at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. That last one has yet to be announced. Although he’s been on a lifelong vacation, one might think that he needs a few months at a lake somewhere to clear his head.

  3. He must not be very bright. Haven’t we been through this? Tires? Thruway? Anyone remember that deal? That was over much less money too.

  4. Suddenly, after a silent lifetime in politics, he notices that we have a “self-centered government.” Wait until Bruno and Silver read that. He has no idea how self-centered they can be when they’re accused of being self-centered. Good luck with them and the indians.