New Jersey Breeders Question Budget 'Veto'

The TBANJ has taken a stand in the wake of a "veto" of its budget by the governor.

The Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association of New Jersey is reworking its 2010 budget, but in a Feb. 19 letter to Republican Gov. Chris Christie, the organization took issue with the governor’s veto of the budget because it’s not part of state government.

Christie earlier in February “vetoed” the budgets for the TBANJ and Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey, calling them examples of “excessive, profligate spending” in a state with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit. The TBANJ, however, said it’s a private, non-profit association charged with fostering and promoting Thoroughbred breeding and ownership in New Jersey.

The letter was copied to three legislators.

“I understand that your administration is trying to curtail wasteful spending in state government, and I applaud your efforts in doing so, but the TBANJ is not part of the state government in New Jersey,” TBANJ executive director Mike Campbell said in the letter to Christie. “I would have appreciated if your office would have contacted me to discuss some of the line items in our 2010 budget before issuing a statement that made me and the board of trustees look like we are part of the wasteful spending that is going on in state government.”

Christie took issue with planned expenditures for lobbying and promotion of breeding and racing. Campbell in his letter said the line item for lobbying, public relations, public affairs, and media relations “did not show an increase in our 2010 budget.” Campbell said the TBANJ has employed a lobbyist for the past 10 years and believes “very strongly that we need a legislative representative in Trenton to make sure the needs of our association are heard by the legislature.” 

Campbell also said a $25,000 contribution to a racing industry study wouldn’t be made because the commission formed to undertake the study is being disbanded.

The TBANJ and SBOANJ budgets were approved by the New Jersey Racing Commission Jan. 20. Campbell said the TBANJ budget would be resubmitted in time for the March 17 NJRC meeting.

In conjunction with the letter to Christie, TBANJ president Tom Swales issued a statement clarifying the organization’s operating status. The TBANJ, he said, is classified as a non-profit 501 (c) 5.

“It is not a government entity or a quasi-government entity,” Swales said. “None of the funds used to support the TBANJ’s mission of fostering and promoting the breeding and ownership of Thoroughbred horses in New Jersey come from the state budget.

“Funding for the promotion, public relations, and advocacy of the breeding program, as well as the administration and funding of breeders’ awards, comes from a small portion of the money bet by patrons on horse races at racetracks, off-track wagering facilities, casino race book rooms, and through account wagering. Since the funds flow through the racetracks to the association, they are regulated but not public.”