Saturday, January 2, 2010

Paterson Sets An Aqueduct Deadline - The Daily Politics by Elizabeth Benjamin - NY Daily News

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Gov. David Paterson is giving legislative leaders a week to agree on who should operate the long-delayed video gaming facility at Aqueduct Racetrack, and says if they don't choose, he will, the DN's Glenn Blain reports.

"What I am probably going to do in the next week or so is pick one myself and try to publicly persuade them to embrace this decision," Paterson told reporters just before hosting a New Year's open house at the Governor's Mansion.

Paterson and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate must all agree on a VLT operator, but have been deadlocked for months over which of the five remaining bidders should be chosen to re-develop the Queens racetrack

The governor said the legislative leaders are at fault because they have so far failed to reach a consensus. Lawmakers, however, have blamed the administration for dragging out the process.

"We've been waiting months for the governor to make a decision and we're glad he's close to making the decision," said Dan Weiller, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson declined comment through a spokesman.

The state is counting on revenue from the Aqueduct facility to help balance its budget. Lawmakers included a $200 million upfront payment from the winning bidder in the deficit reduction plan they passed in early December.

Charles Hayward, president of the New York Racing Association, which runs Aqueduct, Saratoga and Belmont, warned last month the agency may not have enough money to run the Belmont Stakes this spring because it is not receiving any VLT revenue.

Hayward's comments prompted state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to launch an audit of NYRA. DiNapoli subpoenaed the association, which initially balked at complying.