Message from Michael B. Campbell, President and Legislative Coordinator of the ITHA:As we make our final push for slots at tracks legislation during the Spring session in Springfield which is currently scheduled to end on May 31, 2011, the ITHA also is keeping an eye on all other proposed legislation that may affect horse racing in Illinois.A threat to the funding of Breeder Awards has arisen as legislators are looking at ways to trim the budget. The following is a current status report on this issue which is currently taking shape in House Bill 124 (HB124) and Senate Bill 335 (SB335).
The fiscal pressures facing Illinois next year are severe. In January, the Illinois income tax was raised from 3% to 5% (a 66% increase). Despite that large tax increase, we have a backlog of some $8 billion in unpaid bills, and a serious cash flow shortage. The Governor has proposed borrowing $8.75 billion to "refinance debt," but there is little legislative appetite to authorize massive new borrowing in the face of voter backlash over the large income tax increase. Consequently, significant cuts throughout state government will be necessary for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2011.
The Governor proposed spending increases in his FY12 (fiscal year 2012 which is July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012) executive budget recommendation; however, given that his borrowing and new revenue suggestions have little legislative support, both the House and Senate have rejected the Governor\'s approach and are working on serious budget cuts.
An elaborate legislative budget process has emerged this year. The House has unanimously passed a resolution that sets overall spending levels, and has apportioned that total among its various appropriations committees. Each committee, in turn, must develop budgets (and cuts) to reflect their apportioned amount. As you might imagine, it has been a difficult process, but one that is being conducted on a bi-partisan basis.
The Senate is working on a similar process, with an overall spending target that is $1.2 billion higher than the House. There will be significant drama and tension surrounding the reconciliation of Senate and House budget amounts. It is expected that the chambers will meet somewhere in the middle (possibly with new gaming revenue to bridge the gap).
It is that broader context in which the issue of funding breeder awards through the Illinois Department of Agriculture (“IDA”) has now become a concern. Even if “slots at tracks” legislation is approved this spring, the resulting new funds to support horse racing will be many months away, so continued state appropriations for our breeder programs in fiscal year 2012 is a separate matter.
The chronology of events regarding legislative FY 2012 appropriations to IDA is as follows:
·On May 3, 2011, Senate Amendment #1 (SA#1) to SB 335 (Steans/Madigan) was filed providing budget implementation (“BIMP”) language for revenues associated with the Senate’s version of the FY 2012 budget.A BIMP bill provides the necessary substantive statutory language to ensure all state budget appropriations are administered correctly.SA#1 to SB 335 included language eliminating the normal state transfer of GRF (general revenue) funds into the IL Thoroughbred Breeders Fund for FY 2012.SA#1 to SB 335 was approved by the Senate Executive Committee on May 3 by a vote of 12-2-0, and then approved by the full Senate on May 4 by a vote of 31-26-0 (only one “yes” vote more than necessary to pass a bill).SB 335 is now sponsored by Speaker Madigan in the House and SB 335 is currently in the House Rules Committee.
·SB 2408 (Kotowski), as originally introduced, included FY12 appropriations for IDA -- including $1.6 million in appropriations authority for breeders awards from the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders Fund (same amount as the current fiscal year).On May 3, Senate Amendment #1 to SB 2408 was filed (same date as SA#1 to SB 335 referenced above) to eliminate all breeders awards through IDA.SA#1 was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Appropriations II Committee on May 3.Due to insufficient support for the cuts to the IDA budget, SA#1 to SB 2408 was held in committee, and SB 2408 remains in the Senate.No other IDA appropriations language has been filed in the Senate to date.
·The House filed its FY 2012 appropriations for IDA in House Amendment #1 (HA#1) to HB 124 (Madigan).HA#1 to HB 124 includes $1.6 million in appropriations authority for breeder awards from the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders Fund (same amount as the current fiscal year).HB 124, as amended, was unanimously approved by the House General Services Appropriations Committee on Friday, May 6, by a vote of 12-0-0.HB 124 now goes to the House floor for further consideration.
·Though the House has not yet filed BIMP (budget implementation) legislation to implement its version of the FY 2012 state budget, it is believed that the House BIMP language will allow for the historic transfer of state general funds into the IL Thoroughbred Breeders Fund in order to correspond with the IDA appropriation of $1.6 million contained in HB 124, as amended.
According to legislators and legislative staff in both chambers, all agency appropriation figures are still very much in flux, and both chambers will be spending a majority of the next few weeks trying to find consensus on how to develop (and cut) the FY 2012 state budget.It is possible that both the House and Senate pass separate, and very different, versions of the FY 2012 state budget during the week of May 9 -- with attempts to develop a consensus budget occurring shortly thereafter.
Again, there will be significant drama and tension surrounding the reconciliation of Senate and House budget amounts. It is expected that the chambers will meet somewhere in the middle (possibly with new gaming revenue to bridge the gap).
The ITHA will continue to utilize our significant lobbyist presence and relationships with key senior legislators in an effort to achieve an effective conclusion to this serious threat to the Illinois thoroughbred racing and breeding industry.
Michael B. Campbell, ITHA President & Legislative Coordinator