04/15/2008 12:00AM

Kentucky tracks must keep paying


Gov. Steve Beshear on Monday vetoed a provision of the state's two-year budget that would have exempted many tracks in Kentucky from providing funding to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority.

The veto will restore approximately $1 million in funding to the authority for the 2008 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Authority officials had said that the budget provision would have put 20 positions at the agency in jeopardy if the language was approved.

The provision that was vetoed would have allowed all racetracks in the state with the exception of Churchill Downs and Keeneland to forgo a $3,500 per race day payment to the authority. In addition to the veto, Beshear said that he would set up a task force to study how to provide long-term funding to the agency.

Mark York, a spokesman for the authority, said the veto will allow the authority to conduct its operations through the end of the 2008 fiscal year. However, he cautioned that a long-term solution to the agency's funding was critical.

York said Robert Vance, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, which oversees the authority, has been discussing funding options with racetracks over the past week.

Small racetracks in Kentucky have objected to the regulatory payments because of what they claim is a difficult business environment in the state.