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Gov. unleashes strategy for ‘grin and sin’ taxation

Gov. David Paterson thinks he knows what’s good for New Yorkers:Less smoking and sugary sodas, but more gambling and cage fighting.

Gov. David Paterson thinks he knows what’s good for New Yorkers: Less smoking and sugary sodas, but more gambling and cage fighting.

With his 2010-2011 budget unveiled yesterday, the governor wants to squeeze money out of New Yorkers in some unusual ways. He’ll increase the state tax on cigarettes, making it $11 to buy a pack in the Big Apple. He’ll also add a “fat tax” onto sugary soft drinks — an extra 12 cents for every twelve-ounce can of soda.

On the flip side, the governor wants to bring back ultimate fighting — banned as “barbaric” in 1997. He’d also expand the state’s Quick Draw lotto screens to more stores. And if Paterson has his way, grocery stores will sell wine.

The governor pitched the ideas last year but neither the soda tax nor the wine sales passed the Legislature.

This time around, New York’s $7.4 billion deficit may make the so-called “sin and grin” taxes more palatable, especially if they can offset proposed cuts to Medicaid and education.

“The state’s financial situation has continued to deteriorate,” said David Birdsell at Baruch College. “There’s a greater likelihood that these will go through now, because it’s left everybody grasping at straws.”