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Horse Racing Gets Fifth of Subsidy Local Republicans Wanted

Senate Bill 128, the horse-racing subsidy, hobbled across the Legislative finish line with a fifth of what its Republican sponsors wanted. Prime sponsors Senator Jeff Monroe from Pierre and Representative Drew Dennert from Aberdeen originally asked the Legislature to pour $600,000 into propping up the spring races at their local tracks. Monday’s conference committee brought that figure down to $360,000, but the House and Senate said no. The second conference committee knocked the giddyup subsidy down to $120,000, and that version passed.

The House voted 50–12 to spend tax dollars on running horses around in circles. The sensible nays were Democrats Cwach, Duba, Ring, and Sullivan and Republicans Gross, Hansen, Haugaard, Chris Johnson, Latterell, Mills, Sue Peterson, and Randolph.

The Senate voted 26–6 to subsidize horse racing while only partially solving our nursing home funding shortfallNays there included Democrat Kennedy and Republicans DiSanto, Jensen, Nelson, Otten, and Russell.

If our horsey Governor signs SB 128, we taxpayers will all have a patriotic duty to go to the horse races this spring (assuming it stops snowing, and the tracks dry out). We’ve already paid for our tickets with our tax dollars, so we may as well get our money’s worth.


  1. Jenny 2019-03-13

    Unbelievable – horse racing over money for nursing homes. WTH – doesn’t anybody in Pierre care about the Nursing Home Crisis!

  2. Donald Pay 2019-03-13

    Well, it’s kind of what they want you to do: talk about the horses vs. old folks. If you are tsk-tsk-ing about the skewed priorities, you aren’t talking about what’s really important. Why are the old folks and horses always in competition for a few crumbs apiece at the end of the appropriations process when there is so much unfairly untaxed income from the millionaire and billionaire “residents” of South Dakota?

  3. Robert McTaggart 2019-03-13

    What is not in the bill is a measure to control methane emissions from horses….or old folks…

  4. Daniel Buresh 2019-03-13

    Horses go to the races….elderly go to the glue factory?

  5. Robert McTaggart 2019-03-13

    That makes me question whether there is truth in advertising in “Elmer’s glue”. Is it really 100% Elmer?

  6. Jenny 2019-03-13

    That $120,000 could have gone to nursing homes to pay five nursing assistant salaries.

  7. mike from iowa 2019-03-13

    Doc, check the manifest at each nursing home to see if there is a dearth of Elmers.

  8. Robert McTaggart 2019-03-13

    It appears that 4 out of 5 Elmers voted for Cory. So they are all missing an Elmer…

  9. James 2019-03-13

    You should also note that the state swept 5.8 million from the horse races not that long ago to balance their budget. This isn’t a hand out, this is a fraction of the amount of money stolen from the horse racing industry.

  10. jerry 2019-03-13

    James, how long is “not that long ago”? Who was governor at that time?

  11. Cathy 2019-03-13

    South Dakota has horse racing?

  12. chris 2019-03-13

    And how long now until we hear from the sprint car lobby?

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-13

    Jenny’s five nursing home assistants would also provide services all year long. Those horse races provide entertainment for only a handful of spring weekends.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-13

    Cathy’s comment indicates the horse-racing industry should use some of their subsidy to advertise, maybe live-stream their races on the Internet.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-13

    “Stolen” from the horse-racing industry? Really?

    Are we talking about money that was in the till at the horse track, in the pockets of the horse breeders and racers, that Bill Janklow came and took out of civilian pockets? That would be stealing.

    Or are we talking about money that the government had, decided once upon a time to spend subsidizing horse-racing, then decided to spend on other public priorities? That’s not stealing. That’s maybe torquing off the horse-racing industry, as surely as cutting funding for other government programs may be to interested parties, but it’s standard budgeting procedure.

    I’d like hear more about this “theft” and why the horse-racing industry is entitled to any money from taxpayers.

  16. Erica 2019-03-13

    This republican does not support horse racing. It can be a very cruel sport. While living near Louisville, KY all the people sure get happy about all the money it brings in to have the Derby but noone dared speak about the crime it would bring (and not just talking illegal gambling aspect) or how the horses were treated.

  17. Debbo 2019-03-13

    21 thoroughbred horses died just at Santa Anita racetrack this racing season. They’ve shut down the track why they try to figure out what’s going on.

    Overbred horses is what’s going on. Bones aren’t strong enough to handle the pounding.

    Breeders are doing the same to some dog breeds. Smashed face dogs have breathing issues, English or French bulldogs can’t bear pups naturally, etc. Cat breeders have bred for a mutation that gives the cat deformed short legs.

    Ugh to all of it! 😡😡😡

  18. Debbo 2019-03-13

    No. Money should not go to horse racing before other dire needs SD has.

    Of course if the horse racing crowd stopped voting R and switched to D, while urging their friends to do the same, there would be more $ in the pot. Democrats would enact a progressive tax that would require everyone to pay their fair share, rather than forcing the least able to shore up the state. With greater income, more people might come to the horse races, bet more, raise the gate and the handle.

    In a well-regulated market economy Business Welfare might be unnecessary. Capitalism could work in a fair economic environment. It doesn’t work in SD’s corporatistic economy.

  19. Kal Lis 2019-03-13

    Cwach is a damn fine legislator.

  20. David Newquist 2019-03-13

    “I’m talking to my local legislators,” he [Shane Kramme, track starter] said. “Back in the (19)90s, maybe ’95, ’96 or ’97, then-governor (Bill) Janklow borrowed over 1 million dollars from the racing fund. I’m going to ask for that money back. We need some interim funding for two to three years, and my ultimate plan is to fund horse racing off sports betting.”

  21. jerry 2019-03-13

    Great link Dr. Newquist. It’s too bad that Rapid City does not have the horse racing as they would shower the track with tax payer money like with an American Legion baseball stadium, a professional hockey team. Move the thing to Rapid City and collect hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, just for showing up…they do.

  22. grudznick 2019-03-13

    To Mr. jerry’s point, I think “not that long ago” was decades ago, which smushes the tangerine into Mr. James face and messes up his bonnet.

    To Ms. Jenny, a multi-question:

    Does this money carry on for ever and ever and should these nursing homes give raises to people on money, which, if it doesn’t carry on for ever and ever, and;

    why should people who don’t like ponies subsidize ponies regardless if they like old people like me, and;

    how much, again, did nursing homes get in this budget? Don’t quote me French math or your made up numbers where you think spending one-time money for costs that go on and on and on, show me how you balance out a good budget for these race tracks.

    Everybody loves ponies. grudznick loves ponies. Horsies are cute, if not snot bubblers, but golly we should have shot this one in the head at the starting gun. No money for horsies. But stop being libbie whiners about the nursing homes if you can’t understand American Math.

  23. Jenny 2019-03-13

    To answer your questions about giving raises to South Dakota nurse assistants. No, Murphy, the State of South Dakota couldn’t possibly ever do anything decent like that to the working poor. That would go against their Republicans values of not giving a crap once someone is outside of the womb.
    I’m aiming low,Grudz. This is S.D. remember, you can’t have high goals in such a selfish miserlycorrupted state. if one time money can keep a nursing home open for another year then I’m all for it.
    In a decent society, the billions hidden here would be taxed and we would have money for nursing homes to keep operating and decent salaries for teachers.

  24. grudznick 2019-03-13

    grudznick agrees with Ms. Jenny here. I, also, cast my condemnation on those damnable horse racing aficionados, and thinks we should tax their neckerchiefs extensively.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-13

    Thinking about what Erica said, we don’t even seem to be getting that much money out of this shoestring enterprise.

    We’d make a heap-ton more with a hemp-processing plant.

  26. Francis Schaffer 2019-03-13

    Could I consider this socialism?

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-13

    Debbo, could horse breeders reverse courser and bring back race horses with stronger bones? Or were those lighter bones a preferred trait?

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-13

    Following up and elaborating on David’s note, another article says the Legislature approved the transfers and the SD Supreme Court ruled them constitutional:

    The financial crunch that made horse racing uncertain this year looks to be even worse for next year. Kramme traces the issue back to the late 1990s, when money in two designated horse racing funds started to be transferred out to pay for other things, with authorization by the state legislature.

    The practice of moving money out of those horse racing funds was deemed constitutional by the South Dakota Supreme Court in a case decided in the early 2000’s [Dave Askins, “South Dakota Horse Racing: Betting on a Long Shot,” Pierre Capital Journal, 2018.09.06].

    “Stolen” appears to overstate a legal reappropriation of public dollars.

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-13

    The case in question is Apa v. Butler 2001. Joining the formidable Apa were, from my neck of the woods, Paul Dennert, Duane Sutton, Burt Elliott, and Jim Hundstad. Mel Olson, Bill Napoli, and Ted Klaudt were also among the suers (I’d like to have sat in on that meeting).

    The crux of the argument in Apa v. Butler seemed not to be whether the money somehow belonged to the horse-racing industry because they had paid licensing fees to fill the racing fund; the South Dakota Supreme Court seems to be very clear on the fact that once it’s public money, the Legislature can appropriate it in the general appropriations bill as it sees fit. The crux of Apa v. Butler was minutiae about whether the general appropriations bill illegally amended the racing fund statute… which the Court said it did not.

  30. Debbo 2019-03-13

    Cory, they bred for faster and bigger horses. Less bone mass is part of the package. Some breeding from thoroughbreds that are heavier boned, thus probably slower, is an option. Better still, some breeding with nonthoroughbreds, but the breeders association would have to approve that.

    The best option would be to ask someone with greater expertise in the field of thoroughbred breeding and rules. I have a friend who competes in equestrian contests and understands thoroughbred breeding better than I.

    Thoroughbreds (hotbloods) are often used in equestrian events and she’s ridden many. It’s not rare for equestrian mounts to be thoroughbred horses that are healthy and strong, but not fast enough for racing.

  31. grudznick 2019-03-14

    Mr. H, at 2019-03-13 at 12:35, makes the finest sense I’ve seen in some time and I doff my hat would bow at him if I could. As fine a blogging as I’ve seen since back to the day.

  32. jerry 2019-03-14

    Also, juice the horse’s to make them win. “A Southern California racetrack has made an unprecedented move in professional horse racing to ban race-day medication after the 22nd horse has died at the track since Dec. 26.

    The Santa Anita Park racetrack made the announcement in an open letter published Thursday.

    The decision comes more than a week after the track suspended races at Santa Anita indefinitely after 21 horses were euthanized after sustaining injuries while training or racing at the track within two months.”

  33. Debbo 2019-03-14

    Another one⁉️⁉️⁉️⁉️⁉️

    You’re right about the drugs, just like human athletes looking for ways to cheat, owners and trainers do the same. Reprehensible. Happens at all levels of horse racing.

  34. jerry 2019-04-01

    Add one more from yesterday. “Another racehorse has died at Santa Anita Park, the famed thoroughbred racetrack outside Los Angeles, following a two-horse spill on Sunday.

    The fatality brings the equine death toll at the track to 23 since Dec. 26 — an unusually high number at a facility once considered among the safest in the sport.

    Arms Runner, a 5-year-old horse owned by Rockingham Ranch, suffered a severe and ultimately fatal injury to his right front leg when he fell during the Grade 3 $100,000 San Simeon Stakes, NBC Los Angeles reported. The incident caused a trailing horse to also tumble, but that animal quickly rose to its feet without apparent injuries.”

    Why not use the money for a horse slaughterhouse as there seems to be no end of the destruction on the racetrack. Just as well have a kill plant here in South Dakota that would make a helluva lot more money.

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