This has been the most difficult decision on a vote I have ever made.
There are very good reasons to be for and against this bill.
We need to help the horse industry. It directly provides about 50,000 jobs in Kentucky. We give incentives to companies for bringing 50 jobs to Kentucky. The horse industry is not looking for a bailout or incentives. It is asking to do more of what currently goes on there. Also, horse racing is the signature industry for this state. I had the opportunity to go to Australia in 2007 and spend 2 weeks learning how they run their government. When I would introduce myself and tell people where I was from, they would always say "Kentucky....horse racing!". We should do what we can to keep that.
The e-mails and calls I have received from my constituents are running about 90% for.
The bill has a few positive aspects. It eliminates the state income tax for active duty military, gives taxpayers a 50% tax credit on their car tax, and provides sales tax exemptions for the equine industry, such as feed.
There is $2.5 million in the bill for problem gambling prevention.
The bill helps other horse breeds other than thoroughbreds. You would be amazed at the money people spend to move here to raise horses.
If we are ever going to get to a constitutional amendment for full casinos, this may be an interim step we need to take to get there.
This should be on the ballot. After 10 years of hearing "Let the people decide", now we are not. I think that is wrong. I have talked to several attorneys I respect, and I get different answers on its constitutionality. Those opinions seem to coincide with their opinion as to the public policy benefits or detriments. So I really don't know if it is constitutional or not. If this passes, I suppose we will know from the Supreme Court in about 6 to 9 months.
There is much about the details of the bill not to like. There should be more money put toward addiction prevention. There is mandatory unionization of non-supervisory employees at the tracks (boy do I not like that). The buying of votes through schools building projects is unseemly.
The fact that Turfway has the largest initial license fee is really annoying and I think one more slap at northern Kentucky.
I don't think the Senate will pass this version.
I really, really wish this was a bill with full casinos and on the ballot in the form of a constitutional amendment.
The fact that my constituents seem to want me to vote yes overwhelmingly. The ones I talk do not seem to be concerned about having the right to vote. I think the stories of the demise of the horse industry is pushing people to that decision.
I don't want to be the guy that killed the racing industry.
Finally, I keep coming back to a chance encounter I had recently. I went by myself to play golf in Lexington and was paired up with 2 gentlemen. One of the gentlemen moved here from the northeast. He made what I assume was very large amounts of money at some big company (I think it was Comcast). Anyway when he retired, his wife wanted to get into the Thoroughbred business. So they moved here to Kentucky to own and race horses. He told me very flatly that he can't afford to race any of his horses here in Kentucky. He ships them to Indiana and Pennsylvania to race them. He chuckled at the fact that he moved here to Kentucky to be in the horse capital of the world and can't race his horses here.
Now, this gentleman and his wife are the sort of people we need to attract and keep here in Kentucky. He has plenty of money to spend, and he probably does spend it. But he has no roots here. There is nothing keeping him from moving to Indiana or Pennsylvania where his horses do run. We need more people,like this couple, to invest in Kentucky. Therefore we must increase purses and help our tracks become more competitive.
I'd rather see another option like Sen. Damon Thayer's instant racing concept. However, that was not an option. I chose what I believe and hope was the best option. That is why I voted yes.