Sometimes, you just have to look at your government and shake your head…
The Michigan HBPA reports…
GOVERNOR STOPS HB4311: Governor Granholm has asked the legislature to not take any action on HB4311. The bill would have replaced the $2.4 million in cuts from the Ag. Equine Development Fund. These funds supported our programs such as Breeders Awards, Supplements, Stakes and Owner Awards. Her request has ended the opportunity to restore the funds, HB 4311 is done.
Once again, action in Lansing has a negative impact on our industry, as mentioned these funds are generated by the 3.5% tax on simulcasting which produces more than enough to fund our programs. It is difficult to understand a decision to stop a producer for the state. This action was anticipated based on prior action in Lansing when it comes to supporting an industry with a 75 year history and at least 12,000 jobs.
The HBPA Board realized that this could be the outcome. In anticipation, they decided to use purse pool funding to restore our dates to 74 and support the stakes program. The decision was costly when 8 days were reduced and all the starts that will not take place, but the meet had to be saved. One can only wonder how much influence our decision to support ourselves impacted the Lansing decision. The total amount to support the ORC and Programs is $463,600. Without support from the HBPA, thoroughbred racing in Michigan would have been over.
See? I told you this whole ordeal wasn’t over. If a happy ending is to be had, someone in Lansing will crush it.
But seriously, Gov. Granholm’s constant antagonism of her state’s racing industry is downright laughable (in that “laugh so you don’t weep” kind of way). I can’t help but look at the public support Kentucky’s governor, Steve Beshear, and Ohio’s head of state, Ted Strickland, give to their states’ racing programs (or at least a willingness to sign the right legislation) and wonder what we as a state did to deserve such an enemy of the industry in office.
The frustrating thing about Granholm’s disregard for pro-racing congressional action is that, unless I missed something, she has failed to justify any of it. There has been no public explanation for her actions as far as I can tell. The fact that she does not seem to be held accountable by anyone for this, or any of her previous atrocities against the industry, is a frightening notion. At this point, I would even be appeased by some neutral political doublespeak; just give me something.
From the HBPA’s report, it seems Pinnacle’s season won’t be affected by this bill dying. It appears those who depend on the supplemental awards will get the shaft (myself included), but at least they’ll still be putting horses the gates. However, I am not sure how this will alter things at Mount Pleasant Meadows or the state’s three harness tracks. I’ll ask around at Mount Pleasant this Sunday and see what I can find out.
On a slightly more optimistic note, it appears some state congresspeople are holding another brainstorming session in the near future (thanks, Otis). I don’t know how much good it’s going to do if the Governor is, in all likelihood, just going to shoot it down like everything else, but at least they’re still trying to figure something out.
I really don’t like it when my posts get this politically charged, but my frustration with the Governor, and a good chunk of Lansing for that matter, is reaching its boiling point. I promise the next time we meet, it will be about things that happen on the racetrack and not at the Capitol Building.