KHRA Funding Bill Dies as Legislature Adjourns

Legislation that would have provided about $5 million a year to fund the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority died in the final days of the state’s 2007 General Assembly session.

The measure would have shifted a large portion of the state's pari-mutuel excise tax to the authority after statutory deductions. The KHRA will now rely on racetrack licensing assessments that were suspended last year when the General Assembly approved funding for the KHRA for the first year of the two-year budget cycle.

The bill's demise leaves the KHRA with about $500,000 to work with after July 1, said Republican Sen. Damon Thayer, an advocate for the legislation. The General Assembly session ended March 27.

“We’re back to square one,” Thayer said.

A state audit earlier this year noted staffing, procedural, and financial deficiencies at the KHRA. It also showed Kentucky is well behind other major racing states in regard to regulatory funding for pari-mutuel racing.

Thayer called the situation “an emergency” and said he and other legislators would ask Gov. Ernie Fletcher to include the issue during a special session he has proposed for sometime this year to address legislation the House and Senate failed to pass.

Also killed was a plan to funnel $500,000 to The Red Mile, Lexington’s struggling harness track, to bolster the purse account this year.