Blog Posted Aug. 26th @8:40pm
Gary Tinkle on the HBPA site brought up this point last year on how Governor Granholm and Michigan can give The Movie Industry a 42% tax break from Graholm to exist here. Which cost Mi. $120 Million in Revenue. But Horse Racing got 0% Tax break, which brings in over $400 Million.
And I put it in Several Blogs. October 29, 2009
July 19, 2010…
But now The Detroit News’s Nolan Finely has taken notice as well.
Last Updated: August 26. 2010 1:00AM
Michigan is paying Hollywood filmmakers $155 million this year in hopes they’ll bring jobs and investment to the state. But for want of a couple of million dollars, Lansing is allowing an established segment of the entertainment industry — horse racing — to wither, taking with it hundreds of jobs and small businesses.”When you’re in a state that is losing jobs daily, you need to protect the ones you have,” says Patty Dickinson, president of the 750-member Michigan Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association. “Nine years ago we had 72,000 jobs in Michigan tied to horses. Today we’re down to 24,000.”Much of the loss, says Dickinson, has come in the past two years after the state, in a budget cutting move, stopped paying for keeping officials — stewards, vets, timers, etc. — at Michigan’s five tracks. Staffing the tracks cost the state about $2.3 million a year, she says.
When the state funds went away, the horse owners and tracks had to dip into their own accounts to pay the officials, a charge of about $5,900 a day at Pinnacle Park track in Romulus, says owner Jerry Campbell. As a result, Campbell says, the 84-day racing schedule has been reduced to 31 days, cutting deeply into revenue and resulting in smaller purses. That’s driving horse owners to other states with more race days and fatter pay-outs.
“The economic model of running this business has been busted,” Campbell says. “The entire industry in this state is in jeopardy.”
Campbell and Dickinson consider the loss of state financial support as something of a theft, since the industry generates about $6 million a year for the state from a 2.5 percent tax on simulcast betting. The cost of staffing the tracks used to come out of that tax revenue, but all of it is now going into the General Fund.
Betting at Pinnacle Park is down 45 percent due to the shorter schedule, and Campbell has put on hold an additional $30 million in investment he had planned around the track.
At Dickinson’s 80-acre Hillsdale County farm, the herd of broodmares has been culled to 20, from 70 two years ago, and she’s buying less feed.
Benefiting from Michigan’s short-sightedness, she says, are Indiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, which have more race days, and allow slot machines at racetracks and offer incentives for horse breeders.
“They’re building an industry at our expense,” Dickinson says.
The Granholm administration disputes that the racing industry pays its own way, saying state subsidies total $10 million a year. Spokeswoman Liz Boyd notes that attendance at race tracks has been declining for years, and says the industry must be self-supporting. The budget deficit, she says, mandates hard choices.
Fair enough. But budget cuts that kill jobs and jeopardize tax revenue seem a poor bargain, particularly when the state is giving the film industry direct subsidies for making movies here. Those payments are an investment in future jobs, and I hope they pay off.
But the horse industry is already employing people. Cutting hay, shoveling manure and coaxing a thoroughbred around a track may not be as glamorous as standing around a movie set, but they’re real jobs, and they’re here today.
They won’t be here tomorrow if the state doesn’t apply some horse sense to its budget choices.
Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more at detnews.com/finley and watch him at 8:30 p.m. Fridays on “Am I Right?” on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.
ENOUGH SAID? But is the State of Michigan Listening and actually HEARING?
August 22, 2010…
June 11, 2010…
July 22, 2010…
I am Glad more people are starting to take notice.
Thank You for your Column Mr. Finley
MICHIGAN NEEDS THOROUGHBRED HORSE RACING. CONTINUE THE TRADITION.
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