Session Sinks to Low Point on Final Day
Bills pass from House to Senate
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed House Bill 1729 on Wednesday, aptly titled, "Gaming Tax Relief." With utter disregard for the critical issues facing the average Hoosier, including how Hoosiers will pay their mortgages, whether the state will act to address a historic deficit in its unemployment insurance trust fund, areas in our state suffering from the highest unemployment rates in the post World War II era, and small and large businesses across our state struggling to keep their doors open, House Democrat Leadership bestowed an $80 million tax cut on one very select group of companies - horse tracks and casinos.
The proponents of a corporate bailout for Indiana's horse tracks claim that the $500 million willingly paid by a company for the right to place 2,000 slot machines and virtual blackjack, poker, and roulette tables at Hoosier Park in Anderson was, in hindsight, too much money to pay.
For five years, Indiana's horse tracks begged the legislature for the right to expand their gaming activities for the noble purposes of saving the chronically unprofitable Indiana horse racing industry. In 2007, they were granted that right, and their license fee was utilized to provide tax relief to every Indiana resident.
In order to secure the capital necessary, they borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars, which they are repaying today at a blended rate of more than 15 percent. The owners of these companies made a bad business deal, and so today they need a tax break.
House Bill 1729 provided them with that tax break to the tune of $80 million over the next four years, which amounts to a forgiveness of approximately 16 percent of their licensing fee. Forgiving 16 percent of a company's debt would certainly help many struggling small businesses, but that relief is earmarked only for millionaire casino owners.
I join hundreds of thousands of outraged and disgusted Hoosiers who understand clearly that when faced with the monumental challenges of the day, the House majority's idea of tax relief for Hoosiers was limited to massive relief for arguably one of the most profitable industries in the United States.
Today is a new low for the Indiana General Assembly, a sad day for Hoosier small businesses who are left to fend for themselves in these difficult times, and a bad day for Hoosiers struggling to make ends meet. Hoosiers deserve better, and I hope they join me in demanding it.
Rep. Randy Borror