ALBANY -- The Cuomo administration is pushing legislators to consider a constitutional amendment to allow Las Vegas-style casinos in New York as they try to wrap up work on redistricting and the state budget, multiple sources said Monday.
"There has been a lot of talk about it," said one legislative official. "There's been a push" for passing a multi-issue package of legislation.
Several lobbyists working on gaming and other high-profile issues confirmed the idea has been discussed, but they weren't sure if it would come to fruition when lawmakers vote on new redistricting maps, likely next week. They also said the governor's proposal to expand the criminal DNA database and a new pension plan are in the mix.
Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said the issues were being discussed -- but not as a trade-off for approving redistricting bills.
"Nothing is tied to redistricting," Vlasto said. "We're having ongoing discussions about the budget. Redistricting is on a completely separate track."
At stake is the decennial process of redrawing maps for legislative and congressional election districts based on the most recent U.S. Census. Lawmakers face the prospect of a federal court taking it over if new maps aren't in place by March 15.
Lawmakers also are trying to complete a state budget by the second-to-last week of March, although the spending plan isn't due until April 1.
Key legislators have said new district maps for Senate and Assembly are being printed as part of a redistricting bill, but that they still haven't agreed on congressional lines. They are also considering a proposal to change redistricting for 2022.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has pledged to veto maps that are "hyper-political," though he hasn't defined what that means. He's also pushed to include some of his high-profile proposals -- such as the casino amendment -- to be voted on at roughly the same time.
"There has been talk -- I'm not sure it's going to happen," said one lobbyist.
The governor has made expansion of the criminal DNA database and creation of a less expensive pension plan for new government hires agenda priorities, along with first passage of a casino amendment. A casino amendment would have to be passed again by the legislature next year, then approved in a statewide referendum.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are also discussing an amendment to change redistricting. Essentially, the broad outline is to hand the process over to a 10-member panel of nonlegislators, said Assemb. John McEneny (D-Albany), co-chairman of the redistricting task force. But, still, the legislature would have the authority to reject the panel's proposals and adopt its own lines.
Citizens Union, a good-government group, has backed the idea, arguing that some reform is better than none. But Senate Democrats say the proposal would make things worse -- while giving leaders a free rein to gerrymander state election districts for the next 10 years.