Update on the Texas Racing Commission Budget Situation

ttalogoThis week’s Texas Racing Commission meeting has garnered a lot of attention, with a lot of misinformation floating about.

About 200 horsemen from around the state converged on the TRC meeting in Austin Aug. 25 and urged the commission to leave its rules for historical racing intact, despite an ongoing court case and veiled threats from some legislators to withhold funding from the commission. Representatives from the Texas horse industry and individual TTA members argued against repealing the rules—which the TRC had publicly said it intended to do—because it would nullify the appeal of a court ruling that stated the commission had no legal standing to promulgate the rules.

The commission voted 4-3-1 on a motion to repeal the regulations, which failed because there was not a clear majority supporting the initiative. At issue now is whether the TRC will continue to receive adequate funding from the state past the end of its fiscal year Aug. 31. When the new state budget was adopted in June, a provision was attached to the TRC budget that requires the commission to specifically request $750,000 from the Texas Legislative Budget Board. This money funds TRC executive director Chuck Trout’s position and other staff salaries and covers the commission’s rent and utilities. The commission is prohibited from moving money from other accounts to cover this shortfall, so without the budget board allocation the commission would shut down and so would all live racing and simulcasting across Texas on September 1. It should also be noted that the TRC is not funded by taxpayer money but rather from fees collected by industry participants (tracks and horsemen) and that the LBB simply serves as a “pass through.” So the TRC is only asking for approval to utilize funds generated by the horse industry to regulate the horse industry.

Some Texas horsemen said risking a shut-down of racing was necessary in order to keep the hope of historical racing alive.

Shortly after the meeting, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick expressed his extreme displeasure, claiming that inappropriate and offensive comments concerning Senator Jane Nelson were made and demanding an apology.  The entire text of his response may be viewed here.

For the purposes of transparency, we would like to publish TRC Chairman Robert Schmidt’s testimony before the Senate Finance Committee last February, which can be viewed here, as well as a link to the video archive of that meeting. You will need to fast forward to 2:26:28 to get to the proper section.

Also, take a moment to view Chairman Schmidt’s letter to Senator Nelson in May regarding the repeal of rules authorizing and regulating pari-mutuel wagering on historical races.

Do you find anything disrespectful here?

We assert that Chairman Schmidt displays nothing but class in his words and conduct, and we applaud him for his actions.

We encourage you to contact members of the Legislative Budget Board (listed below) to ask for their support in funding the Texas Racing Commission:

Governor Gregg Abbott
office: (512) 463-2000
Fax: (512) 463-1849
email: Info@GregAbbott.com

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick
(512) 463-0001
email: LTGConstituent.Affairs@ltgov.state.tx.us
email: logan@danpatrick.org

Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Straus
(512) 463-1000
email: joe.straus@speaker.state.tx.us

Senator Kevin Eltife
(512) 463-0101
email: Kevin.Eltife@senate.state.tx.us

Representative Drew Darby
(512) 463-0331
email: drew.darby@house.state.tx.us

Senator Craig Estes
(512) 463-0130
email: craig.estes@senate.state.tx.us

Representative John Otto
email: John.Otto@house.state.tx.us

Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa
(512) 463-0120
email: Juan.Hinojosa@senate.state.tx.us

Rep. Sylvester Turner
(512) 463-0554
email: Sylvester.Turner@house.state.tx.us

Senator Jane Nelson
(512) 463-0112
email: Jane.Nelson@senate.state.tx.us

Rep. John Zerwas
(512) 463-0657
email: John.Zerwas@house.state.tx.us