This week the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission amended its regulations to authorize pari-mutuel wagering on historic races.
I applaud them for taking this important step toward helping our state’s endangered horse industry.
Specifically, regulations were adopted formalizing the approval process for exotic wagering on both live and historic horse races.
Now, let me be clear about what these regulations will and will not do.
The regulations will provide an additional tool that Kentucky horse racing tracks can use to draw people to their venue, to supplement purses and to assist horsemen who are struggling but want to race in Kentucky.
However, no one should see today’s actions as THE answer to the challenges faced by Kentucky’s horse industry.
Nor will it generate any significant new revenue for the state.
But it is an important step forward to help a struggling industry that is vital to the Commonwealth’s overall economic health, supplying 100,000 jobs and making a $4 billion impact every year.
And for those who say that Kentucky’s horse industry isn’t hurting, they need only to see the distressing stories of the last few months.
• Turfway Park requested that the KHRC allow them to cut four Wednesday race cards and all but one stakes race from its fall meet schedule, a request that was granted, just to keep its purses at last year’s diminished levels.
• This year Churchill Downs cut its spring meet from five days a week to four days, and Ellis Park is only racing three days a week. Yet the horses racing at these tracks continue to migrate to other tracks, including venues just across the river.
• And finally, Keeneland recently announced that it would reduce its fall meet purses by $1 million. This follows two consecutive meets with six-figure
And that’s just at the tracks!
Not mentioned are the breeders who are being lured away by more robust incentives elsewhere; the shortage of equine veterinarians; and the closure of small, horse-related businesses.
Kentucky’s connection to the horse is quite special.
The fact that we’re known as the “Horse Capital of the World” is a great source of pride for every Kentuckian; and as Governor, I will continue to do everything in my power to see that we retain that title.
On Friday we received another reminder why Kentucky has been, is today and will always
remain the Horse Capital of the World.
It came from the Breeder’s Cup World Championships, the prestigious event that -- in the world of thoroughbred racing -- is to autumn what the Kentucky Derby is to spring.
Churchill Downs in Louisville is hosting the Breeders’ Cup this fall, for the seventh time since the race began in 1984.
But Friday we announced that the Cup will return to Louisville in 2011, on Nov. 4-5, giving the track a record eighth race and its first consecutive years as host.
The 28th running will be televised in more than 130 countries around the world. And, like this year, it will offer the richest prize money in sports, with more than $26 million in purses awarded over the two-day event.
Cup officials noted a number of reasons for their decision, but two are especially noteworthy:
One, they appreciated Kentucky’s business-friendly environment. As part of an overhaul of our economic development toolbox that I successfully pushed during the special legislative session last summer, we expanded incentives to help attract events like the Breeders’ Cup, given its huge economic impact on Kentucky businesses.
The way I see it, the equine industry is one of Kentucky’s greatest attractions, and I’m determined to help the industry not only survive but thrive amid an increasingly competitive marketplace.
And two, they love the Kentucky crowds.
Of the seven best-attended events in Breeders’ Cup history, six of them were at Churchill Downs. The track also boasts the largest single-day crowd of nearly 80,500 people, and it averages an attendance of more than 73,500.
That’s par for the course in Kentucky, if I might mix my sports metaphors.
After all, the Kentucky Oaks set an all-time attendance record this year and, despite torrential rains, more than 155,000 people came out to see the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Oh, and don’t forget that this fall we have a unique opportunity to showcase another side of our signature industry to the world with the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. This 16-day event is expected to draw 250,000 spectators and make a $167 million impact on our state.
Combine all that with competitions like the annual Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, and it’s no wonder why Kentucky is synonymous with the horse.
As part of Kentucky’s preparation for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), Jane and I will attend the 2009 Alltech FEI European Jumping and Dressage Championships in London, England.
The event in London represents one of the last major preliminary championships before the 2010 games, which will be hosted by the Commonwealth at the Kentucky Horse Park – the first time in history they will not be held in Europe.
With tickets going on sale to the public on Sept. 25, it’s imperative that Kentucky reaches out to the international equine community in a big way.
This event in London gives us a huge opportunity to begin wowing the crowd.
We have three goals: to reassure anybody nervous about the games leaving Europe that Kentucky knows how to host an international event; to give competitors, sponsors and spectators a taste of the many attractions Kentucky will offer; and to ramp up the interest in the weeks before the public ticket sale.
Already more than 84,000 hotel room nights have been requested in Kentucky for the 2010 games, and NBC Sports has already committed to 6½ hours of live network coverage.
Some 600,000 tickets are expected to be sold, with 1,200 to 2,000 media representatives from around the world expected to attend.
With financial help from Alltech, the Commonwealth will host the Kentucky Village in London. It will feature:
- A literal taste of Kentucky, from hot browns to burgoo and mint juleps, not to mention Dippin’ Dots dessert.
- Entertainment by Dr. Everett McCorvey, director of the University of Kentucky Opera Theater.
- A section devoted to Kentucky travel and tourism with interactive displays of attractions like caves, lakes and parks.
- The Bourbon Trail, where Maker’s Mark will offer two signature cocktails, tastings, and informative sessions on how bourbon is made in Kentucky.
- Alltech’s Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale®, the Official Beer of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
- Demonstrations of the Alltech FEI Games’ equine disciplines.
- Information about ticketing and travel arrangements for the 2010 WEG games.
It is a true honor to attend the European Championships this year, but we go with a serious mission – to show the world that Kentucky is in full-blown preparation for the 2010 games.
The return on this investment of time and resources will be tremendous.
The World Equestrian Games are composed of the world championships for eight equestrian sports. The Games are held every four years, two years prior to the Olympic Games, and are governed by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).
The 2010 Games in Kentucky will be held from Sept. 25 – Oct. 10, 2010. For more information, see http://www.alltechfeigames.com/
One of my favorite parts of serving as Governor is having the opportunity to get out across the state, talk with Kentuckians and celebrate the ways we are making the Commonwealth a better place for today and tomorrow.
This week, I was able to do just that.
Tuesday, under sunny skies in Cadiz, I unveiled plans for the design of two bridges that will carry US 68/KY 80 across Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The twin basket handle, tied-arch spans will be unique in Kentucky.
Click here to see the distinctive design.
Also that day, I had the chance to celebrate our efforts championing Kentucky's rich heritage and history. Joined in Bowling Green by area leaders and preservation advocates from across the state, I signed legislation that will increase incentives for historic preservation in Kentucky.
The legislation brings about changes to the Kentucky Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, which is administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office. The key change increases the cap on tax credits the program offers from $3 million to $5 million a year.
This legislation is set to encourage citizens, businesses and local governments to continue to work to preserve Kentucky’s great history. We want to help Kentucky communities and businesses use historic structures so we can keep our downtowns vibrant while at the same time preserving the past.
I had the great opportunity Wednesday to join forces with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels in Louisville to announce and ceremonially sign new legislation aimed at finding a way to finance the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project.
This immensely important piece of legislation envisions extraordinary cooperation on “mega-projects” that serve both neighboring states and is an essential step toward financing such projects.
What a great example of collaboration and cooperation at its best.
At the Ford Motor plant in Louisville on Thursday, I ceremoniously signed the new car trade-in allowance that goes into effect this fall.
This piece of legislation could make buying a new car a little easier for many Kentuckians.
Under an incentive in HB 3, passed by the General Assembly during the 2009 Special Session, anyone who trades in a used car for a new car can have the trade-in value deducted from the total consideration given in determining a new vehicle’s retail price subject to motor vehicle usage tax.
The trade-in allowance may be utilized for new vehicles purchased Sept. 1, 2009 through Aug. 31, 2010.
Having the opportunity to celebrate all our recent successes has made this week a particularly memorable one.
Despite these difficult economic times, we are truly leading the way here in Kentucky with creativity, resilience and fortitude.
The past 48-hours have been a whirlwind of ceremonial bill signings and celebrations, as important pieces of legislation passed during the Special Session positioning Kentucky as an unmatched economic leader officially were ceremoniously signed into law.
Yesterday, joined by my wife, Jane, and film industry advocates from across the Commonwealth, I ceremoniously signed House Bill 3, which includes incentives designed to attract movie productions and other film industry opportunities to the Commonwealth.
Surrounded by the striking grandeur of Keeneland, I was reminded of all the opportunity we have here to take advantage of our state’s strongest features: its stunning natural beauty, its signature industries, its vibrant urban areas and rural back roads, its unique culture and its musical and sports heritage.
This legislation will offer Kentucky communities and small businesses a great opportunity when it comes to film production, with incentives that will bring more film production companies to Kentucky, promote tourism and economic development.
Kentucky has hosted three major motion pictures in last decade—“Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story,” “Elizabethtown” and “Seabiscuit.”
Since the passage of this legislation, Kentucky has been in communication with production companies that have expressed interest in filming in Kentucky due to these enhanced incentives.
The Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet film office records indicate a total of 233 days of filming took place in Kentucky during 2007 with a direct economic impact of $3.1 million. This figure includes dollars spent in Kentucky directly tied to the production, including crew wages, location fees, set building materials, hotels, craft services, catering and set design materials.
The overall economic impact of hosting a major motion picture is much greater due to the ripple effect of that investment. Film production companies typically hire local businesses to help with needs such as set construction, food services and transportation, which are also not reflected in these numbers.
The bill also makes the incentive available to companies that spend at least $500,000 to produce feature films or television shows in Kentucky and makes commercials and documentaries eligible with required spending levels reduced to $200,000 and $50,000, respectively. Broadway Shows produced in Kentucky for national tour are eligible for incentives with at least $50,000 in qualified expenditures.
Today, against the backdrop of the Kentucky Speedway, I ceremoniously signed another portion of House Bill 3, which gives the state its best shot yet at attracting a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Attracting a NASCAR Sprint Series Cup race to Kentucky would be a huge economic win with an immense impact for our entire state.
The legislation – also proposed and passed during the recently completed special legislative session --includes a provision to amend the Kentucky Tourism Development Act to add a new eligible category of so-called “legacy expansion” projects.
Legacy expansion projects must conduct events that are in the top league, series or sanctioned level of their type of event, provide permanent seating for 65,000 spectators and be broadcast nationally. The venue must have previously been approved for incentives and the expansion project must exceed $30 million and present one or more “premier events” not previously held in Kentucky.
NASCAR is not only the number one spectator sport in the United States, it also attracts an international audience through its broadcast in more than 150 countries and 30 languages.
I am excited to have the opportunity to position Kentucky through these two pieces of legislation with a stronger foundation today and a better economic tomorrow.
This is the kind of outside-the-box, creative thinking for economic development to which I'm committed. Big things are coming our way.
Members of the Kentucky General Assembly are home now, having met for eight days to tackle the full agenda of urgent issues I set before them.
It’s important that Kentuckians understand the many positive developments of this session.
We also must recognize areas of disappointment and concern.
First, three accomplishments:
One, the legislature adopted my plan for filling a one-billion dollar hole in the state budget for the coming fiscal year -- without raising taxes and without decimating priorities like Medicaid, higher education, public safety and the basic K-12 classroom funding formula known as SEEK.
We balanced the budget primarily through one-time use of federal stimulus funds and additional – and deep – cuts in spending.
And we wisely held back some stimulus funds to fill anticipated holes in the 2011 budget.
Two, the legislature adopted my proposals for creating and retaining jobs by strengthening Kentucky’s attractiveness in a climate of intense competition.
These changes will help us nurture existing businesses, pave the way for an advanced battery manufacturing facility in Hardin County and try to lure a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, future Breeders’ Cup World Championships and Hollywood films.
And three, we created a mechanism for funding mega-transportation projects such as bridges linking Kentucky and Indiana in Louisville and Western Kentucky. This will create momentum on these projects while freeing up financing needed for other roads around the state.
These pieces of legislation occurred because – for the third session in a row – legislators and I collaborated to put the people of Kentucky first.
In essence, policy and problem-solving triumphed over partisan politics and historical rivalries.
But there are a couple of areas of concern.
One, a few state senators were unwilling to step up and safeguard 100,000 jobs in the equine industry jeopardized by competition in other states.
So they voted down my proposal allowing horse tracks to offer slots-style gaming to raise money for purses and breeders incentives. By carefully distributing gaming proceeds, we also would have helped the General Fund.
I knew my proposal would be controversial in some areas.
But it was time to see who supported the horse industry and 100,000 working-class Kentuckians.
I’m disappointed, as are many Kentuckians.
We now need to assess how to move forward to remain the Horse Capital of the World.
And finally, the job of putting together future budgets was made more difficult when the General Assembly created new financial obligations – without including new revenue.
I largely support those priorities – which included millions for certain programs and tax breaks for active duty military personnel and people who buy new cars and houses.
But let us recognize that these proposals will force deeper cuts to other agencies throughout government that provide critical if unheralded services.
We will make these cuts. We’re here to lead.
But as we head into another difficult budget cycle, we must be mindful of the impact of the fiscal decisions we make.
My goal continues to be two-fold: Help families survive these challenging times. Position our state for growth when the economy rebounds.
This special session furthered both of those goals.
But it is clear that the road ahead remains rough. By working together, however, we will get through this.
I am pleased that I will sign legislation that balances our budget for the upcoming year and creates significant new investments for our people in jobs, growth and economic revitalization – at a time when our state needs it the most.
In the matter of a little more than a week, the legislature largely adopted three of the four proposals I presented, including:
- Addressing a $1 billion shortfall for the coming year, while maintaining funding for the basic education formula and higher education, key areas of health care and public safety, including state police, public defenders and prosecutors and local jail support.
- Adopting the Governor’s economic incentives plan to modernize the state’s incentives programs by investing more in local businesses, attracting a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race to Kentucky, recruiting more films and documentaries to the Commonwealth and help in luring as many as 2,000 jobs to Hardin County through the creation of a advanced battery manufacturing facility; and
- Enacting legislation to create funding mechanisms for mega-transportation projects such as the bridges in Louisville and Western Kentucky. The funding authorities created will also free up revenues and bonding capacity for transportation projects throughout Kentucky.
These are undeniable successes.
We came here with big goals. We accomplished three of four of them in a span of a little more than a week.
Few other states, if any, can lay claim to making such critical investments during the most difficult recession in our lifetimes.
But the fact that we came together – working with the leadership in the House and Senate – demonstrates what we can do when we put aside partisanship and rivalry for progress and results. That’s what we have done in this session.
My pledge, as Governor, is to continue working day and night to meet those goals of survival for our people and investment for our future.
We have made progress. But it is clear we still have much work to do.
The halls of the Capitol came to life this week with the buzz and hum of the special legislative session.
With crucial pieces of legislation currently being debated and discussed on the floors of the House and the Senate and in committee, events this week were a reminder that what is decided in the coming days will have a profound impact on Kentucky’s future that will resonate for months, years and decades.
Addressing the joint session of the General Assembly Monday night, I couldn’t help but be struck by the magnitude of the issues with which we are dealing during this special session.
I outlined for legislators a budget proposal that continues funding for education and key areas of health care and public safety.
I outlined an economic incentives bill that will create jobs and stimulate hundreds of millions in investment for our Commonwealth.
The bridges’ bill--as I told legislators--would help projects worth billions of dollars move forward.
And the proposal before the legislature on limited gaming at racetracks would help save 100,000 Kentucky jobs and $4 billion in investment for Kentucky's signature industry.
Kentuckians from across the state also gathered this week to make their voices heard on these important issues.
Advocates for saving Kentucky's horse industry gathered on the Capitol steps Tuesday to rally and show their support. A Perse group of concerned citizens--including former Governor Brereton Jones and Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel--spoke with a unified voice for saving our Kentucky icon and the billions of dollars of economic impact the horse industry brings to our state each year.
I applaud the action taken by the House on Friday to stand up alongside these Kentuckians for our signature industry and its 100,000 jobs.
Everyone got to debate and had the chance to vote. That is the definition of leadership. An issue that is this important deserves the deliberation and vote of everyone.
As I addressed the crowd on Tuesday, I saw worry and concern written on the faces of people who know that immediate action is necessary: their ability to put food on the table, to send their kids to school, to pay medical bills depends on it.
I know the hardworking men and women across the state who rely on the horse industry are deeply grateful for the decisive leadership shown Friday by the House.
On Thursday, it was announced that Kentucky’s unemployment rate today is 10.6 percent – the highest rate since 1983.
This is a sobering fact.
Kentucky's unemployment rate dramatically underscores the need for all of us – in the Governor’s office and in the legislature – to find every way possible to save jobs and create new ones.
Great progress has been made over the past week. With so much hanging in the balance, though, it is imperative that we begin tomorrow with a renewed energy and commitment to the people of our state.
The time for strong, immediate action is here.
We don't have a second to lose.
I applaud the action taken by the House today.
After a thoughtful debate, the House stood up for Kentucky’s signature industry and its 100,000 jobs and $4 billion economic impact.
Everyone got to debate.
Everyone had the chance to vote.
That is the definition of leadership. An issue that is this important deserves the deliberation and vote of everyone.
Now the question is will the Senate give everyone in its chamber the same privilege – an up-or-down vote on an issue of such importance to our Commonwealth?
Kentucky’s unemployment rate today is 10.6 percent – the highest rate since 1983.
That sobering fact should dramatically underscore the need for all of us – in the Governor’s office and in the legislature – to find every way possible to save jobs and create new ones.
We need to act -- and act now -- on the measures under consideration in this special session.
We need to lead -- and lead now -- on these measures.
Our economic incentives bill will create jobs and stimulate hundreds of millions in investment for our Commonwealth.
Our budget proposal continues funding for education and key areas of health care and public safety.
The bridges’ bill would help projects worth billions of dollars move forward.
And the proposal before the legislature on limited gaming at racetracks would help save 100,000 jobs and $4 billion in investment, while investing in Kentucky’s future: our children.
We have the information we need.
We have the authority.
The question is: do we have the will?