IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Don't put reins on horse industry

 IBJ Staff
February 26, 2011
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IBJ Editorial

One billion dollars and growing.

That’s the size of Indiana’s equine industry, according to a recent study by Purdue University-Calumet. That’s up from $294 million just five years before.

Fueling the industry’s growth have been proceeds from Indiana “racinos”—combined horse tracks and casinos in Shelbyville and Anderson. The state sets aside a portion of that money for the industry each year.

That arrangement was part of the 2007 law approving slots gambling at Indiana racetracks. Those payments have meant plumper purses, more competitive races and stronger betting, which has attracted breeders here, making Indiana’s equine industry more competitive with surrounding states.

Now this unbridled growth is in jeopardy. The current draft of the state budget calls for redirecting most of the money that has gone to horse racing to the general fund instead. The industry would receive $27 million in the next fiscal year, down from $60 million this year.

“People were coming to Indiana to breed horses and staying there at Kentucky’s expense and Ohio’s expense,” Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in Lexington, Ky., told an IBJ reporter in a front-page story last week. “This is a move backwards.”

In this lingering recession, we don’t blame legislators for turning over every rock in search of revenue as they work to build a budget without raising taxes. But they should leave the horse-racing industry’s funding alone. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, has called the payments a “shameful subsidy.”

We would call it something else: an investment that has paid off. The equine industry now provides 7,000 Indiana jobs. That’s almost as many people as are employed by the entire city of Indianapolis. And businesses have moved here in good faith, drawn by the prospect of competitive races and incentives to breed horses locally. Those companies do not deserve a bait-and-switch.

Unlike other sectors, the Hoosier horse industry is off and running. We can’t afford to slow it to a walk.

Daniels keeps his cool

House of Representatives Democrats may have lost their heads during their recent walkout, but Gov. Mitch Daniels didn’t.

His initial response was calm. Rather than stoop to name-calling, he took the high road, expressing confidence that Democrats would return to the people’s business.

Daniels’ restraint may have disappointed the angrier members of his party. But to our ears he struck just the right tone, chiding some of his brethren for diluting the legislative agenda.

Daniels struck a similar conciliatory tone at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. He did not follow the pattern of speakers pandering to the Republican party’s fringe, but made a plea for extending its reach.

“We must be the vanguard of recovery, but we cannot do it alone,” Daniels said.

That’s common-sense wisdom from a man who has grown as a statesman during his time in the Governor’s Office.

What about Daniels’ later, more critical comments about the departed Democrats? What had begun as an extreme, but perhaps justified, measure quickly became purely juvenile, so someone had to try to talk sense into them.•

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To comment on these editorials, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.
 

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  1. The deductible is entirely paid by the POWER account. No one ever has to contribute more than $25/month into the POWER account and it is often less. The only cost not paid out of the POWER account is the ER copay ($8-25) for non-emergent use of the ER. And under HIP 2.0, if a member calls the toll-free, 24 hour nurse line, and the nurse tells them to go to the ER, the copay is waived. It's also waived if the member is admitted to the hospital. Honestly, although it is certainly not "free" - I think Indiana has created a decent plan for the currently uninsured. Also consider that if a member obtains preventive care, she can lower her monthly contribution for the next year. Non-profits may pay up to 75% of the contribution on behalf of the member, and the member's employer may pay up to 50% of the contribution.

  2. I wonder if the governor could multi-task and talk to CMS about helping Indiana get our state based exchange going so Hoosiers don't lose subsidy if the court decision holds. One option I've seen is for states to contract with healthcare.gov. Or maybe Indiana isn't really interested in healthcare insurance coverage for Hoosiers.

  3. So, how much did either of YOU contribute? HGH Thank you Mr. Ozdemir for your investments in this city and your contribution to the arts.

  4. So heres brilliant planning for you...build a $30 M sports complex with tax dollars, yet send all the hotel tax revenue to Carmel and Fishers. Westfield will unlikely never see a payback but the hotel "centers" of Carmel and Fishers will get rich. Lousy strategy Andy Cook!

  5. AlanB, this is how it works...A corporate welfare queen makes a tiny contribution to the arts and gets tons of positive media from outlets like the IBJ. In turn, they are more easily to get their 10s of millions of dollars of corporate welfare (ironically from the same people who are against welfare for humans).

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