A spokesman for David Paterson issued a lengthy statement late yesterday about Michael Bloomberg’s plan to sue Indian tribes for not collecting taxes on cigarettes.
According to the statement, the governor and the mayor spoke yesterday and were cooperating to find a solution.
But it goes to say the answer "will not be found in a courtroom."
Here’s the statement:
The Mayor’s frustration on this issue is understandable and it has been a vexing challenge for state government for decades. Four previous Governors, all with good intentions, tried their best but were unable to reach a resolution. This is a priority for Governor Paterson and he is currently in serious discussions with representatives of all of New York’s federally and state recognized Indian Nations to try and reach a resolution to preclude the need for more endless litigation. In the coming weeks, the Governor will be visiting with leaders of the Indian Nations to continue conversations.
The Governor and Mayor spoke about the issue via phone today and agreed to work together to help find consensus. During that conversation, the Governor explained the steps the state is taking to find compromise between all sides. The Mayor expressed his appreciation for the actions the Governor is taking to address this problem.
It is important for the public to recognize that their Governor will not take precipitous actions that could lead to regrettable consequences. As the Mayor is surely aware, the collection of tax on cigarette sales from Indians to non-Indians is just one of many issues that cloud and complicate the delicate relationship between New York and its Indian Nations; among them, land-into-trust claims and subsequent property tax collection for local municipalities; the regulation of Indian casinos and collection of tax for gasoline sales.
The answer to these problems will not be found in a courtroom. Governor Paterson is working to achieve an omnibus resolution to address all of these issues and maintain good relations with the Nations – our neighbors – who live within New York’s borders.
Once again, while the Governor surely appreciates and even shares some of the Mayor’s frustration, particularly in light of the current economic climate, these problems do not lend themselves to simplistic solutions.