The proposed state budget doesn’t include allowing grocery stores to sell wine or letting New York host mixed martial arts fights, but supporters are arguing that the measures should be adopted to raise revenue for the cash-strapped state.
The proposal does not include any tax hikes, but does contain some revenue-raisers, including a surcharge for the racing industry.
Some lobbyists and legislators who have backed bills that would allow wine to be sold in grocery stores and for mixed martial arts events to be held in New York say the measures can still be acted on.
“What I’ve said during my tenure here is this is a sport that offers an opportunity to generate revenue,” said Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, Oneida County, of mixed martial arts-style fighting.
Griffo said that instead of directly charging the industry to hold events in the state, New York would reap the benefits of MMA matches by collecting the expected bump in sales tax when an event is held.
Forty-two states have legalized mixed martial arts fighting.
Gov. David Paterson introduced a measure last year that would have legalized MMA-style bouts in New York, but the bill failed to pass either house of the Legislature. Opponents of the sport believe it is too brutal to be legalized.
Paterson estimated legalizing the sport would bring about $2.1 million revenue a year.
Cuomo hasn’t taken a position on either wine in grocery stores or legalizing professional mixed martial arts.
By not including the provisions in his budget plan, the governor also avoids a skirmish while focusing on the larger battle of education and health care cuts.
Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, who supports both ideas, said it’s possible wine in grocery stores and MMA measures could be introduced separately from the budget.
“But in fairness, it’s not going to address all our financial problems. In the scheme of things, it’s a relatively small amount of money,” Morelle said.
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