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Grisanti seeks restoration of Casino funding

State Sen. Mark Grisanti (center) stands with Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon and Town of Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters at the press conference on June 29.

Legislation has been introduced in the State Senate that could lead to restoration of video gaming lottery money that has been slashed in several racinos, including at the Hamburg Casino, for the last two years.

State Sen. Mark Grisanti announced Friday (June 29) that he is fighting to see that money restored to its respective communities.

“It (would) return the funding to the 2008-09 level,” said Grisanti. That would mean Hamburg would receive $1,236,683 and Erie County would get $412,228.

In the last two years, the Town of Hamburg has seen a reduction of almost 60 percent in funding from that level.

Grisanti, who is seeking reelection to the State Senate in 2012, said part of what bothers him is that upstate racino’s, including Hamburg, saw a drastic cut from the state, while the one in Yonkers saw its funding only slashed by 1.5 percent.

The senator said he is confident that this goal can be accomplished. The bill is still in committee and needs to be introduced in the senate. However, he believes if the funding is not restored in 2012, it has a good chance to be restored in 2013, either through legislation or through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget. He believes the governor would be in support of restoring the entire video gaming lottery money.

There are a number of reasons why he believes this is important.

“It brings solid jobs and decent wages,” said Grisanti.

The senator noted the state finance law would have to be amended in order for the legislation to be approved.

Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters noted he is thrilled that Grisanti is pushing for this, especially since at this time, he technically does not represent Hamburg. As part of the redrawn lines, Grisanti would serve as Hamburg’s State Senate representative beginning in January if he is reelected in November.

“This is really great news for the Town of Hamburg,” Walters said.

According to Walters, the town uses the funding from the Casino for a number of things, including capital projects.

He said the town uses the money, under the guidelines of the state, to help pay off some of its debt as well.

“It reduces the tax burden on our projects,” Walters said.

In 2009, the Town of Hamburg began to see a reduction in revenue from video gaming lottery from the state, Walters said.

As a result of the high reduction of revenue, he said it has led to the continual “upstate/downstate divide.”

Walters said he is thankful to Grisanti for listening and pushing for this legislation after the supervisor approached him three months ago for help.

“We’re seeing some progress finally,” Walters said. “We need to keep working on this.”

Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon said she realizes this has been a major issue for the Town of Hamburg.

“It certainly is important to the town’s bottom line,” Dixon said.

She believes the reduction in video gaming lottery money has placed a greater burden on local governments.

“I appreciate Sen. Mark Grisanti’s efforts on this issue,” Dixon said.

“We can move forward on this,” Grisanti said.


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