Michigan Harness Horsemen's Association president Brett Boyd has written a letter to the state's governor, Jennifer Granholm, in the hope she will reconsider her 2010 budget proposal that shifts state funding in a way that will likely lead to decreased purses and the possible extinction of the industry. The following is that letter:
February 22, 2009
The Honorable Jennifer M. Granholm
The State of Michigan
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Dear Governor Granholm:
If asked the question “What is Michigan horse racing?” How would you respond?
You may say it’s gambling; indeed, it is Michigan’s original form of gambling, authorized in 1933. You may say it’s a hobby; to few, that may be the case. However, to the overwhelming majority of racing participants, Michigan horse racing is a vast microcosm of family owned small businesses currently being operated in every county in this state.
The State of Michigan spends millions of dollars every year attempting to recruit new entrepreneurs and attract new families to Michigan. The Michigan horse racing industry is a great example of entrepreneurship and of several hundred Michigan family owned small businesses that have existed in this state for generations.
Our industry represents over 10,000 jobs in Michigan and our horsemen are unarguably the hardest working taxpayers in our state. Our horse owners, trainers and breeders work first, second and third shift everyday and drive millions of dollars of Michigan based economies while sharing a common love for the horse.
The industry now faces extinction as a result of your proposed 2010 Budget. Your recommendations to appropriate the costs of the State of Michigan Office of Racing Commission and Michigan Department of Agriculture from the Agriculture Equine Industry Development Fund, thereby reducing the purse and program funding available to racing participants, will surely decimate our small businesses and further threaten the families, farms and horses they currently support. In addition, the state will forfeit the taxes and economic benefits presently derived from our operations and currently reinvested in Michigan.
Michigan bred Standardbred racehorses are known as some of the best in the world. Michigan bred horses win races all over the country nightly and they are a product of exceptional Michigan horsemanship nurtured by Michigan grown hay, oats, and corn and bedded on Michigan produced straw and shavings.
Proposal 1 of 2004 was created by casino interests and its manipulative language created a monopoly for them. It is virtually impossible to enhance our business and improve opportunities for our horsemen, our tracks and our State while handicapped by these changes to our constitution without your help. You have offered your support to some technological advances that would benefit our families in the recent past, only to change your mind on more than one occasion. How, as you suggest, can horse racing be self supporting when consistently denied the tools it needs to remain competitive in today’s global gaming market? The bombardment of Proposal 1 advertisements misled the people of Michigan in 2004; there are more casinos operating and proposed in this state, all of which have been authorized by your approval.
States all over the country have realized that horse racing does drive tremendous economies and they have given their racetracks the tools to not only survive but to thrive and assist in driving additional revenues for their states.
We ask that you support the Michigan racing families that have contributed to the economy of this State for over 75 years. Our purses are generated by wagering on our races and our purses earned are driven directly back into the Michigan economy every single day!
Many of our horsemen are second and third generation horsemen. Horse racing is, without a doubt, a family business. We have hundreds of families and farms here in Michigan and they need your help and guidance. These families are the heritage of horse racing and we were here long before the brightly lit, bell ringing, slot machines that threaten our business and our family farms everyday.
President, Michigan Harness Horsemen’s Association