Mike Gulotta, who along with Andy Willinger owns Deo Volente Farm in Flemington, NJ, told harnessracing.com that he was disappointed, but not surprised, regarding Governor Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that would have directed monies received from the sales tax on horse transactions back to the horse racing industry. Christie vetoed, Bill S2394/A3531 on Friday, Feb. 18
“Well, it’s disappointing, but not unexpected,” said Gulotta, who served on Christie’s transition team after he was elected in 2009, “I thought he might go with it. But remember, it’s not the only thing he vetoed. He vetoed 14 bills all together.”
Gulotta added that he thought the governor’s actions were not solely about racing.
“You can’t look at this strictly through a racing lens exclusively; you have to look at the bigger picture - from the broader perspective of the political landscape of budget negotiations on a statewide basis. On that basis, he is preparing to do battle with the Democrats and he doesn’t want to do anything that in the short or long run will increase the budget, especially when he is already facing a large hole.”
“If you do look at this through the context of racing, it’s important to remember that he has improved a lot of other things. And he still has things yet to approve.”
But as an owner-breeder in the Garden State, Gulotta would have preferred the bill to be made into law.
“Of course, from a breeding perspective I am disappointed. I think it means job losses and it doesn’t help the competitiveness of the New Jersey breeding industry,” he said. “But what ultimately is going to help spark competitiveness of the New Jersey racing industry is the Meadowlands. We need to have a viable, vibrant, profitable, preeminent racetrack. That’s what’s going to do it - nothing else. Of course, you want to get as much help as you can, but in the [governor’s] context of, ‘Look I’m not going to do anything that would increase the budget deficit, that would be irresponsible.’ I might not agree with that, I think it would create jobs, but he’s got to do what he’s got to do politically. That’s my take on it. It’s not about racing; it’s about a much broader political landscape.”
So while disappointed about the veto, Gulotta is taking the long view.
“You have to remember that this is a man who wants to privatize racing in New Jersey,” he said. “If we can get that accomplished, it will be much more important than anything else we’re talking about. You have to look at the end game.” (harnessracing.com)