There is some very good news to report to everyone concerning this legislative session. As all horsemen are aware we have an Illinois owners incentive program for $ 10,000.00 claiming races and higher, everyone see’s the added money that gets paid when you win one of these races as an Illinois bred. For the past several years this program has not been funded by the Illinois Department of Agriculture because its has been stripped from appropriations due to no money and no budget. All of these awards for Illinois breds who win these races has come directly from our purse accounts without being replenished by the State, simply put, we paid it from our purse account.
Over the past 6 months or so the HBPA, ITHA , IHHA as well as all of our lobbyists have been working to get these funds placed back into the budget and appropriated back to us as intended.
I am happy to inform everyone that with the passage of the new budget we have accomplished this task, and we now have an allocation to the thoroughbred industry of over 3.6 million dollars to support Illinois owners awards etc.
From now on, we will not have to cover all of these awards from our purse account, it will be replenished by the State as it always has been. These funds will support all t-bred races throughout the state as well as the county fairs.
While the HBPA was involved in this effort, the lead role was played by the ITHA and IHHA, they worked it and did one heck of a job for all of us. Due to this, posted below you will see their press release on this issue, please read it, its very informative.
Legislative Session Concluded:
ITHA Successfully Advocates for $3.67 Million Racing Boost from Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders Fund; Pursuit of Gaming Expansion Bill Continues
The ITHA is pleased to report that, thanks to our continued advocacy in Springfield, the state budget approved today by Illinois lawmakers allocates $3.67 million to support thoroughbred owner’s awards and Illinois stakes races.
For the last two years, during the state’s budget impasse, lawmakers did not authorize such spending. And because state law requires that the owner’s awards be paid regardless, the overall purse account was the only source of funds. Now, with the awards again backed by the state, those purse dollars will be available to pay increased overnight purses.
Moreover, $3.67 million – the amount authorized by the budget approved today – is twice the amount authorized in a typical year. The spending from the state’s Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders Fund will be used primarily to: Dramatically increase purses to Illinois conceived and foaled or Illinois foaled stake races. Pay owner’s awards to Illinois conceived and foaled and Illinois foaled horses who finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in “open” races of $10,000 claiming and higher.
“Favorable outcomes in Springfield don’t just happen by accident; they happen as a result of proactive, focused and effective communication with lawmakers,” said David Block, a leading Illinois owner and breeder and a former director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation. “I’ve been following closely and the ITHA, together with the IHHA and ILHBPA, made this a top priority during the entire session. Their work clearly paid off and Illinois breeders are grateful.”
The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association and Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association worked collaboratively throughout the legislative session, engaging with all four legislative caucuses and the office of Gov. Bruce Rauner, in pursuit of these funds. Instead of focusing solely on gaming issues, as others appeared to do, our three groups recognized the utility – with the state’s impasse ongoing – of pursuing other opportunities, such as this, to help bring relief to our industry. The budget measure, Senate Bill 6, also appropriates $2.53 million from the Illinois Standardbred Breeders Fund for standardbred awards and races.
The ITHA is grateful for continued interest and support from state legislators of both parties and chambers of the General Assembly. We also appreciate the governor’s interest in the horse racing industry and its associated agribusiness jobs.
“While Republicans largely had issues with the overall budget, many of us support the line item for owner awards, and I want to acknowledge the effective advocacy of the three Illinois horsemen groups – ITHA, IHHA and ILHBPA – in getting those sums restored,” said Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet, an assistant Republican leader.
House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) added: “The ITHA, IHHA and ILHBPA worked all session to restore funding for owner awards, and I am pleased to say that the lobbying efforts of Illinois’ three horsemen groups paid off in the final appropriation for the Department of Agriculture.”
While passage of a state budget marks the end of the budget impasse of more than two years, lawmakers did not during the legislative session act on gaming expansion legislation that would permit slots at tracks for the purpose of enhancing purses. Together with abolishing recapture – the woeful practice of tracks sweeping dollars from the horsemen’s purse account to subsidize their own operations – winning passage of that gaming measure remains our chief legislative priority.