Poll Question of the Week

Last week I asked whether our readers support a proposal set forth by PEF that NY could save money by hiring more people in order to reduce overtime costs. For the first time in the history of Empire Page Poll questions, there was a tie. Forty-six percent of those who voted agree with PEF’s solution; forty-five percent disagree while ten percent have no opinion.

I am not totally surprised at the results because the issue has not been widely discussed and I’m sure many people felt they lacked some of the basic facts necessary to form an opinion. I’m inviting anyone with knowledge and opinions on the subject to submit a guest editorial on it.

Here are my questions: 1) Who is earning overtime — what workers for what agencies? 2) How much are they earning? 3) Why is overtime required? 4) Are these short-term or long-term conditions? 5) Wouldn’t the state be taking on a much larger long-term obligation in hiring people than paying for overtime in the shortrun?

Poll Question for the Week of May 23

NYRA — the New York Racing Association — has put more than 1,400 people on notice that they may be losing their jobs if NYS will not lend it $25 million in advance of this summer’s racing season. The tracks affected are Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct. Gov. Paterson has indicated that NYS will loan NYS enough money to stay open through the Saratoga season.

There’s no doubt that the loss of the Saratoga season would be a catastrophe for the entire Capital Region and for NYS.

Ironically New York’s Off-Track Betting system is also going broke. It was the arrival of off-track betting that many credit with the decline of New York’s vital racing industry because it allowed people to bet on races without going to the tracks and the revenue split provided less for the racing industry.

In recent years the annual take by the OTBs has declined rapidly and they are having a hard time just paying their bills, not to mention providing any kind of decent return to New York’s taxpayers. What to do about the OTBs is a major issue which needs to be addressed by the Legislature soon.

NYRA on the other hand almost lost its franchise a few years ago and is now under new management with another long-term arrangement with the state. One element of that agreement was that NYRA would collect revenue from video slot machines that were supposed to be installed at Aqueduct as a result of legislation that was passed in 2001.

NYRA’s request for a $25 M loan is based on the state’s failure to have put the Racino in at Aqueduct. Should NYS loan NYRA the $25 million or should we bury the three flat tracks and fix up the OTBs instead? Vote this week at EmpirePage.com.

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