Area school districts have a lot riding on the passage of Proposition One, allowing table-gaming in the state — $3.8 million to be exact.
Lawmakers, district and labor union officials gathered Tuesday afternoon at the Oneida County Office Building urging the public to vote in favor of the proposition.
If passed Tuesday, Nov. 5, it would generate about $430 million in revenue statewide each year, create more than 10,000 jobs, mean more funding for schools and help relieve the burden on taxpayers.
“When it comes to more money for our schools and tax relief for our families … I have one thing to say: Jackpot,” Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, said.
If passed, the legislation would allow the authorization of up to seven casinos statewide, four in upstate, and 80 percent of the state’s tax revenue brought in would go for either education aid or property tax relief, Brindisi said. “The only gamble is leaving good ideas on the table and walking away.”
More than $18.8 million a year would go to Oneida County, $3.8 million of which would go to area districts and tax relief, he said.
Herkimer County would receive $1.3 million in aid to districts and tax relief.
The funding would be distributed by the state aid formula.
“I know school districts and counties have struggled,” said Oneida Count Executive Anthony Picente. “This new revenue stream would allow us to keep the taxes low and more importantly educate our students.”
“It’s about jobs, it’s about growth,” Picente said.
Though Brindisi said that regardless of the increase in aid available to districts he would still work to ensure the state aid formula is tweaked and made more equitable.
“My goal is to make sure every student whether they’re in Westchester or Utica, gets a basic and sound education,” he said.
Though area representatives are all for-the legislation, it has been the source of controversy statewide especially with those who think the expansion of gambling is a bad idea.
Utica school board Vice President Louis LaPolla said he’s “all for receiving money,” but was hesitant that the news conference was originally scheduled to take place at Watson Williams Elementary School.
“I don’t think school facilities should be used to promote gambling,” LaPolla said. “It sends the wrong message to students, parents and taxpayers that we’re only reliant on gambling to get more money for the school system.”
It was moved to the county building as it was better logistically with the afternoon conference falling when students would be released from school, according to officials.
Page 2 of 2 - The legislation includes gambling regulations and would not conflict with Oneida County’s current agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation, Picente said.
“There’s already gaming throughout the state,” Picente said in response. “The lottery is the largest supporter of education.”
It also restricts the number of casinos that can be built.
“The referendum provides a balanced approach to gaming,” Brindisi said.
The new casinos would not compete with those locally, but instead would help bring revenue currently being spent in other states, Picente said.
New Yorkers currently spend more than $1.2 billion a year at destination casinos in neighboring states and Canada, he said.
Pat Costello, area representative for the Central and Northern New York Building Trades, also supported the passing of the proposition.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.