Elimination of Track Assessment Fee Vetoed in Kentucky

Gov. Ernie Fletcher has vetoed the legislature's elimination of an operating fee paid to the KHRA by the state's racetracks, but it won't have an impact on funds expected by the authority this year.

The veto by the governor eliminated language from the state budget that would have banned the KHRA from charging tracks a daily fee based on the number of live racing days.

"It's very important to Gov. Fletcher that the racing authority remains with the level of funding it need to do its job properly," said Brett Hall, director of communications for Fletcher. "That source of funding (assessments from racetracks) was important to keep the KHRA basically in business during the coming biennium, and with out that source of funding it would have been very difficult for them to continue to do their job."

Hall said Fletcher had heard comments from both Sen. Damon Thayer, who was the primary legislative advocate for eliminating the fees, and racetrack operators, but believed it was important that the KHRA maintain adequate funding to oversee the breeders' incentive fund and the medication policies.

The KHRA operates on a $3-million budget, drawn from three sources: $1.2 million from fees paid by racetracks based on the number of days they have live racing; $1.3 million from licensing and other fees; and $500,000 from the state general fund.

Thoroughbred tracks pay fees of $3,500 per race day, and Standardbred and Quarter Horse tracks $1,750.

The legislature's two-year budget stopped the KHRA from charging tracks the per-live-day fee, and instead replaced the money the first year with $1.2 million from the general fund. The second year of the budget did not include the $1.2 million, only the $500,000 taken from the general fund.

A decision on whether or not the assessment from the racetracks would be suspended during the first year of the budget, which begins July 1 and includes operating money, is yet to be determined.