The New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) effort to get a half-billion dollars in state-backed bonds to rebuild Belmont Park has failed, the bill dying yesterday, the final day of the session. To my knowledge, this is the first time NYRA (and NYS racing in general) has lost, at least in any significant way, in the legislature. Good news, indeed.
Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblyperson Linda Rosenthal are the sponsors of legislation that would strip the NY racing industry of $230 million in annual corporate welfare and redirect it where it belongs – education, primarily. (We are part of a broad coalition championing this measure.) The pair wrote an op-ed on the bond bill in the Gotham Gazette Thursday. Here are some excerpts:
“The twice-bankrupt New York Racing Association is back at the State Capitol, cup in hand, asking the state to back $450 million in bonds to rebuild Belmont Park’s perfectly suitable and usually empty racetrack. The bonds would be in addition to the millions of dollars the state already provides to the industry through subsidies and tax exemptions.
“NYRA proposes to dedicate money it receives from video lottery terminals – money that should be going to education – to pay back the debt service on the bonds. Using state subsidies to pay back state-backed debt does not pass the laugh test.
“Preventing the Belmont bonds legislation is the first step in ending New York State’s long-standing corporate welfare to this failing industry. After 10 years of subsidies, NYRA is no closer to self-sufficiency. Enough is enough. It’s time to cut the cord.”
Yesterday, in saying no to the bonds, the legislature has hopefully begun the process of severing that cord entirely.
(full Gotham piece here)