Here’s Gov. David Paterson speaking today at the Saratoga Racetrack, where he was on hand for the Travers, about the impending start of collection of sales taxes on cigarettes sold on Indian Land, which is slated to begin next week.

A judge on Friday reserved a decision on a lawsuit brought by the Seneca in an effort to postpone the Sept. 1 start date. Paterson said this afternoon that he would be willing to meet with tribal leaders, but won’t be swayed from sticking to the deadline, explaining: “It is our right to do this as New Yorkers to try to protect our businesses that are suffering from an unfair competitive advantage.”

Asked what he would say to New Yorkers who are sympathetic to the Indians in this argument, Paterson replied:

“It’s one of the reasons that so many small businesses have been unable to run, and it’s not fair to them. So, as New Yorkers I would think that they would respect their neighbors who are trying to run businesses.”

“One of the reasons – not the major reason – but one of the reasons the upstate economy is in such dire straits is because the businesses have not been able to compete freely not just in the sale of cigarettes but also in the sale of gasoline.”

This was Paterson’s first public appearance since former Chief Judge Judith Kaye released her report this past Thursday that recommended Albany County DA David Soares consider criminal charges against the governor in connection with the Yankees tickets scandal.

Paterson refused to comment on the report or say whether he’ll be meeting with Soares this coming week, saying: “It’s an ongoing investigation, and I can’t comment on it.” Asked whether he had paid for his tickets to the track today, he chuckled and replied: “Yes.”