By John Kane
Hasn’t it occurred to anyone that taking money out of a region hurts its economy? In 14 years of revenue sharing with New York State, the Seneca people have given up $1.5 billion to the state. Out of that, less than $400 million has come back to Western New York.
That means that literally $1.1 billion was removed from the economy of this region. While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo shucks and jives over the debacle of his signature Buffalo Billion gift to the region, no one seems to have noticed or cared that more than $1 billion was sucked out of the area at a pretty alarming rate.
Actually quite to the contrary. The rank and file from both parties in this region continue to call on the governor to get the Senecas back in line and keep the money flowing. The city mayors and council members as well as county officials seem focused only on the few million that trickles back from the state on this regional drain. A smarter bunch would be wiping its brow, glad all that leakage has been plugged.
Buffalo and Erie County, in particular, should be glad this lopsided drain has ended.
Most of the dollars spent at the Seneca Gaming enterprises come from their residents. But money sent back to Western New York from the state haul from Seneca Gaming has gone disproportionately to Niagara Falls because it’s based on slot drop rather than whose purse was opened for those slot dollars.
The good news is that most of the spending from Senecas is in Erie County and the Buffalo area. Most of the salaries, vendor contracts, consumer spending and major project spending is all done in the major metropolitan area of Buffalo. Just think what will happen when the Senecas are no longer sending $100 million to $200 million per year out of the area to Albany.
Is it worth it to have that much money leave the area only to have a trickle of it come back? And all you “free market,” “God bless capitalism” guys – do you really think sucking consumer dollars out of the area to be spent by politicians is a good formula?
Look at what Niagara Falls did with its free money! A quarter of a billion dollars over 14 years and nothing to show for it but a gaming dollar addiction.
The Seneca Nation is not a black hole where dollars disappear. Almost every dollar that goes to the Seneca Nation goes right back into the local economy. You just have to wonder what that billion dollars that left Western New York could have done if they circulated a few times before they were sucked out of the area. You can bet the Seneca people are wondering.
John Kane, a Mohawk, is a freelance columnist and radio host. He lives on the Cattaraugus Territory of the Seneca Nation and hosts radio shows there and in New York City. He is a frequent guest on radio and television including the Capitol Pressroom and Time-Warner Cable News.