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LIA advocates moving horse racing from Aqueduct to Belmont

Belmont Park, seen here on June 10, 2017,

Belmont Park, seen here on June 10, 2017, has about 90 days of racing in the spring, summer and fall, according to the New York Racing Association. Credit: Getty Images / Al Bello

Moving the horse racing at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, Queens, to Belmont Park in Elmont is one of the top policy priorities of Long Island’s largest business group.

The Long Island Association is expected to release its “top 18 priorities in 2018” at the group’s annual membership meeting on Wednesday. The LIA is seeking action by federal, state and local governments.

By unveiling its priorities now, the LIA hopes to influence budget negotiations in Albany and Washington. The 2018-19 state budget is due April 1. Containing state spending is also one of LIA’s top priorities.

Shifting all thoroughbred horse racing in New York City and the Island to Belmont Park would create an entertainment mecca that also includes a proposed hockey arena for the New York Islanders, said LIA president Kevin Law.

“If you had year-round racing there, you could really make the Belmont property a year-round sports and entertainment destination,” he said. “The two uses will feed off of each other and free up Aqueduct for redevelopment.”

Belmont has about 90 days of racing in the spring, summer and fall, and Aqueduct, 99 days in the winter and fall, according to the New York Racing Association, which operates both tracks.

Aqueduct also is home to the successful Resorts World Casino, whose attendance far exceeds that for horse racing.

The LIA also is pushing for a law that limits annual increases in state spending to 2 percent, a threshold that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has adhered to since coming to office in 2011. However, both houses of the State Legislature have yet to agree on spending cap bills.

“It is critically important, now more than ever, to make sure government controls spending in light of the federal cap on deductions for state and local taxes,” Law said, referring to the $10,000 limit on deductions of local property taxes and state income taxes on federal returns.

In addition, the LIA wants Congress to restore full deductibility of state and local taxes, or SALT, which was capped in December’s federal tax overhaul. Some experts expect the cap to hurt the region’s high-end residential real estate market and consumer spending.

At Nassau County’s other major development project, the Hub in Uniondale, the LIA is calling for a rapid bus service to the Long Island Rail Road stations in Hempstead Village and Mineola, and for three pedestrian bridges to nearby Hofstra University, Nassau Community College and the RXR Plaza offices.

The group also wants the state to make good on its commitment to provide $30 million for Northwell Health’s Center for Bioelectrical Medicine even though the proposal was moved to the Northwell campus in Manhasset instead of the Hub.

The LIA also has endorsed a proposed veterinary medicine college at LIU and an autism center at Molloy College.

The LIA is also backing a Long Island Builders Institute proposal to require civic associations and others who challenge local planning and zoning board decisions to post a bond.

Law said in an interview the requirement would reduce the number of nuisance appeals by requiring those who appeal “to have skin in the game in a process that can delay development projects by two years or more.”

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