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Spitzer Says State Won't Pay Seneca's Thruway Bill

By Mark Scott and Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – It appears that New York State won't be paying the Seneca Nation of Indians for a portion of the state Thruway that passes through the Cattaraugus Reservation. That's the message Governor Eliot Spitzer sent during a brief appearance in the Buffalo area late last week.

The Senecas sent a more than $2 million bill to the state, representing its charge for each car passing through reservation land over a six week period. Spitzer was asked about the bill by WBFO's Eileen Buckley.

"I get lots of mail. It hasn't come to my desk yet," Spitzer said. "Let me make it clear. They absolutely have no claim to that money."

When asked if he will negotiate with the Senecas on the Thruway bill, Spitzer abruptly shut off all questions about the Indian nation.

Before doing so, however, Spitzer said he would not back away from his plans to collect taxes on tobacco sales by Seneca retailers to non-Indians. But once again, he refused to provide a timetable.