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By Tom Wanamaker, Indian Country Today, Oneida, N.Y. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 31--As 2003 comes to a close, New York state continues to tighten its fiscal squeeze on resident tribes. Through its own fiscal bungling and ineptitude over the last three decades, Albany has created an economic environment that continues to drive manufacturers and other employers out of state. A controversial plan to stem that tide, the Empire Zone program, gives employers years of tax-free status in return for hiring only one new worker. Officials running the program recently admitted that they have no clue as to its effectiveness.
Now, the fiscally challenged state government is not only trying to force tribal businesses to collect its sales taxes, but is also looking to unilaterally extract money from existing casino compacts.
Rewind for a moment to 1993. That year, former Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo negotiated a pair of casino compacts with the Oneida and St. Regis Mohawk nations. The deals allowed the tribes to open their respective Turning Stone and Akwesasne casinos; neither stipulated that New York receive a monetary payment from either. The state Senate and the Assembly …