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News stories tagged with "taxation"

Matthew Flynn is one of the youngest GOP candidates preaching fiscal conservatism.
Matthew Flynn is one of the youngest GOP candidates preaching fiscal conservatism.

GOP preaches fiscal conservatism in November

Republicans nationwide believe they're riding favorable winds to big victories in November. And the sail is emblazoned with a simple message: fiscal conservatism. The details of how the GOP would downsize government - and what that would mean for North Country jobs - is still a bit fuzzy.

Republican candidates held a meet-and-greet in Ogdensburg last week. David Sommerstein took the opportunity to ask them what they'd cut.  Go to full article
Robert Bastille rallies with the Tea Party in Canton.
Robert Bastille rallies with the Tea Party in Canton.

Tea party rallies on tax day

For the second year in a row, Tea Party activists across the country used "Tax Day" as a rallying point for protests against government spending and taxation. About 60 sign-waving people held a lunchtime protest in front of the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vermont. A group gathered last night in Plattsburgh, where gubernatorial candidate and Suffolk County executive Steve Levy was a featured speaker. Some 40 people waved flags and homemade signs to passing cars on Canton's main intersection. Martha Foley reports.  Go to full article
Mike Hennessey (D-Sherill)
Mike Hennessey (D-Sherill)

Oneida Democrat seeks to unseat Griffo

A three-term Oneida County legislator wants to unseat Republican State Senator Joe Griffo. Democrat Mike Hennessey lives in the city of Sherill, which has been embroiled in land claim and cigarette tax issues with the Oneida Indian Nation. So it's no surprise Hennessey wants New York to collect taxes on tobacco sold at native-owned stores as a way to close the state deficit. He also wants to eliminate unfunded state mandates, reform state ethics codes, and create jobs. Hennessey is a financial advisor and former small business owner. He told David Sommerstein a visit to a local soup kitchen for veterans compelled him to run for State Senate.  Go to full article

Local governments weigh the pros and cons of going out of business

Next week, voters in Port Henry in the Champlain Valley will decide whether to dissolve their village. If the ballot measure passes, local services would be provided in the future by the town of Moriah.

Today and tomorrow we'll be looking at local governments across the North Country that are thinking about merging or going out of business. The idea is being considered from Lake George to Potsdam to Saranac Lake. It's an effort to save money at a time when property taxes are a hotbutton issue and state aid from Albany is shrinking.

This morning, Brian Mann talks with Charles Zettek, with the Center for Governmental Research, a think-tank that helps local governments that are thinking about dissolving. Zettek served as a consultant to the village of Port Henry.  Go to full article

Paterson wades into tobacco tax controversy

Facing a more than $7 billion deficit, Governor Paterson is plumbing even long-shot revenue sources to make up the spending gap - things like the so-called "obesity tax" on soft drinks. Another is collecting tobacco taxes from the state's Indian Nations. Initial reaction from tribal chiefs suggests Albany shouldn't expect the money anytime soon. As David Sommerstein reports, Paterson has been reluctant to tread where past Governors have failed.  Go to full article

Mohawks prefer diplomacy in tobacco tax fight

Last year, Governor Paterson signed into law a bill that would enforce collection of state tobacco taxes when non-natives buy cigarettes at native-owned stores. Albany estimates up to 400 million dollars a year in taxes are going uncollected. But like his three predecessors, Paterson's administration said last week it will not try to collect the taxes. Remember when the Seneca Nation burned tires on the Thruway when then-Governor George Pataki tried to collect them? The whole issue is knotted up in lawsuits. New York City is suing a Long Island tribe. Two counties are suing the Cayuga Nation. The rulings could set precedents in the now cloudy case of tobacco taxes and native tribes. Jim Ransom says there's an easy solution - sit down and talk. Ransom is chief of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe in Akwesasne. The Mohawks are at odds with New York State over three issues - the cigarette taxes, land claims in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, and building a casino in the Catskills. Ransom says one agreement can resolve them all.  Go to full article

Mohawks: tobacco smuggling answers lie in cooperation

Last week, the Center for Public Integrity released an exhaustive investigation on the confluence of illegal tobacco, drugs, and organized crime on the Mohawk reservations on the St. Lawrence River. Yesterday we spoke with the report's author.

Today, the Mohawks' side of things. Chiefs of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe near Massena say Canada and the United States are raising cigarette taxes without considering historic tribal rights to trade tobacco. Chief Jim Ransom says the author of the Center for Public Integrity report didn't even request an interview with tribal chiefs. The Mohawks have endured a reputation as smugglers even before tobacco companies worked with some natives to traffic untaxed cigarettes into Canada in the 1990s. This year's surprise hit film, Frozen River, has brought Akwesasne's reputation to the big screen and the nation. Chief Ransom told David Sommerstein he condemns the drug trafficking and crime that happens in Akwesasne. But he says the characterization ignores the history of oppression and environmental degradation brought on the Mohawks.  Go to full article

Mohawks on tobacco tax: "sit down with us"

On Monday, Governor Paterson signed a bill to enforce collection of taxes on cigarettes sold at native-owned stores. Supporters say the law will bring the state anywhere from 60 million to almost a billion dollars in new revenue. But it's highly unlikely that money would do anything to help close next year's massive budget deficit. According to the Buffalo News, Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder says Governor Paterson himself said the new law is "flawed" and "political." Native tribes across New York have vowed to fight the law in court, saying it violates their sovereignty. Jim Ransom, chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in Akwesasne, says it also would make the economy worse and deepen an already grave smuggling problem. Ransom told David Sommerstein a loss of cigarette sales would affect 400 to 500 people in and around the reservation between Massena and Malone.  Go to full article

Walmart sues Ticonderoga to lower assessment

The retail giant Walmart is suing the town of Ticonderoga. The lawsuit in State Supreme Court claims the town's $6.9 million assessment of the Walmart Supercenter there is more than twice what it should be. The move comes months before Walmart will have to pay full taxes after 10 years of payments-in-lieu-of-taxes. Walmart has challenged assessments of its big boxes across the country. Ticonderoga town officials say the property's probably undervalued because the assessment was made when the Supercenter opened in 1998. Town Supervisor Bob Dedrick told David Sommerstein he was very surprised.  Go to full article

Critics decry a broken farm subsidy system

Next month, the U.S. Senate will try to craft a new farm bill. The existing one expires in October. The House of Representatives passed its version this summer with a staggering $286 billion price tag. Now Senators will jockey to get the most subsidy money for the crops grown in their state. Politicians use this kind of "as long as I get mine" legislating to make the best of what's widely considered a broken system. The farm subsidy system was created during the Great Depression to help small farmers survive. But, today, just 10% of America's farmers get two-thirds of the subsidies. Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, and former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen have reaped thousands of dollars for land they own. A recent Government Accountability Office audit found that since 1999, the agriculture department handed out more than $1 billion in payments to dead people. Michelle Perez is a senior analyst with the Environmental Working Group, based in Washington, DC. The public interest research group has been trying to reform the farm subsidy program, or eliminate it altogether. It created the first searchable online database of farm subsidy recipients. Perez spoke with David Sommerstein.  Go to full article

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