New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers reached a sweeping budget deal on Friday that includes details for the New York Racing Association to be re-privatized after being under state control since 2012, according to a Bloodhorse.com report by Tom Precious.
Timeline for the transfer to a private board isn't clear under the terms of the deal, which both the Assembly and Senate are expected to pass.
The plan calls for a 17-member board – all of whom must be New York residents – with Cuomo selecting the first chair to serve three years, after which the full NYRA board would vote on a chair. Six of the members are appointed by government (two by Cuomo and two each by the leaders of the Assembly and Senate). The current board's executive committee selects eight new board members and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and New York Thoroughbred Breeders each get one seat. NYRA chief executive officer Chris Kay and his eventual successor would also have a seat.
The re-privatization agreement will not eliminate state government's Franchise Oversight Board but weakens its reach somewhat by requiring a unanimous vote in its financial oversight of NYRA operations, according to the report. NYRA will be required to create audit, governance and safety committees.
From NYRA President and CEO Chris Kay: “We thank the governor and legislature for their support in returning the New York Racing Association to private control. NYRA is the cornerstone of an industry responsible for more than 17,000 jobs and $2 billion in annual economic impact across our state. As a private entity, we look forward to continue to grow interest in our racing, expand our fan base, and promote New York's important tourism and agriculture sectors. “
From NYTA president Richard VIolette Jr.: “The budget bill includes provisions that will have a positive and lasting effect on New York's Thoroughbred industry. We applaud the governor for his support on these issues, and we appreciate the hard work of our legislators, especially Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senators John Bonacic and Kathleen Marchione, and Assembly members J. Gary Pretlow and Carrie Woerner. New York racing is second to none, and reprivatization will allow NYRA to move forward and optimize what is an invaluable asset to our state. The flexibility provided to the Jockey Injury Compensation Fund will open the door to lower costs, making New York a more attractive place to do business and creating an atmosphere of growth for the thousands of Thoroughbred owners and trainers and the tens of thousands of workers they employ. As the state's second largest agribusiness, horses are responsible for $4.2 billion in economic impact, 1.3 million acres of green space and 33,000 full-time jobs. We thank the governor and our representatives for the confidence and commitment they have shown in embracing initiatives so important to our industry.”
From New York Thoroughbred Breeders Executive Director Jeff Cannizzo: “New York's $4-billion equine industry is critical to the state's fiscal health and those 33,000 direct jobs it supports. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's ongoing commitment to preserving this diverse agricultural industry that touches every county of New York State, the most prestigious racing in the United States will continue for decades at NYRA. We also want to thank Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senators John Bonacic and Kathleen Marchione, and Assembly members J. Gary Pretlow and Carrie Woerner for their hard work on our behalf.”
Cuomo executed a takeover of NYRA's operations in 2012 after financial problems, a spike in equine fatalities and a controversy involving takeout rates hit the organization.
Read more at Bloodhorse.com
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