As readers of this blog and followers of the Michigan racing industry know, the future of the sport in this state could potentially rest in the hands of our elected officials in Lansing.
Following Gov. Jennifer Graholm’s proposed cuts to the Michigan Ag Equine Fund, including drastic cuts to the state’s Equine Industry Fund and the disbanding of the owner’s and breeder’s incentive programs, the state Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee responded by restoring the monies to about 89% of the 2008/09 budget. Obviously, any cut hurts, but at least this will allow the industry to survive for the time being.
The issue will now head to the House of Representatives when the Legislature reconvienes from spring recess on April 21. The House Appropriations Sub Committee on Agriculture will draw up its own proposal for the ag-related funds, which will then be voted on by the entire House. After the revised budget is approved in a joint session, it will be put before the Governor for her approval.
Though the Senate proposed that most of the monies be restored, this does not guarantee the House will follow suit. The Equine Industry Fund is still in jeopardy.
Because of this, the Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association is encouraging participants, fans and others with interest in the racing industry to contact the members of the Michigan House Appropriations Sub Committee on Agriculture to let them know how important horse racing is in this state and how losing the industry would produce more long-term negatives than the temporary benefits of cuts can relieve.
As I stated when the issue was put before the Senate, if you are affected by Michigan racing in any way – be it as a friend or relative of a horseman, an operator of a business frequented by a racetracker or breeder, or even someone who just likes to go to the track once a year and play the Kentucky Derby, I encourage you to join me in signing the letters offered below and telling the members of the sub committee to at least keep the funding at the level proposed by the Senate. Every letter counts, and a big stack of them will make a big impression.
For those interested in taking action, here are the letters offered from the MTOBA website. If you did not receive a pre-addressed letter from MTOBA and would like to help, the addresses of the subcommittee members are listed at the top of each page. For more information on the issue and how you can help, please contact MTOBA.
Thanks again for your time and support of the Michigan horse racing industry.