Assemblywoman Woerner: Assembly State Budget Proposal Privatizes NYRA

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) announced that her plan to return the New York Racing Association (NYRA) to private control is included in the Assembly’s 2017-18 state budget proposal.

“State control of NYRA was never meant to be a long-term solution,” said Woerner. “It’s time that we return it to private control to protect New York’s valuable racing industry and ensure its continued success and stability.”

The NYRA Reorganization Board was established in 2012 for what was supposed to be a three-year period. It was later extended in the 2015-16 budget for an additional year. The 2017-18 Assembly budget proposal transfers control of NYRA to a new 15-member private board, including two appointees by the governor, one by the Assembly and one by the Senate.

Other board members would include the chief executive officer of NYRA, one appointee by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, one by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and eight by the executive committee of the current NYRA reorganization board –including representatives from Saratoga, Nassau and Queens counties where NYRA’s three race tracks are located. Assemblywoman Woerner worked to ensure that these local representatives were included, so that the Saratoga Springs community can have a seat at the table when decisions about the Saratoga Race Course are made.

The proposed change is similar to legislation Woerner authored and passed last year that was later vetoed by the governor. State control of the board has hindered NYRA from implementing long-term initiatives and acting on capital projects, noted Woerner. Also included in the Assembly’s 2017-18 state budget proposal is the restoration of purse supports and breeders awards at the Aqueduct Racetrack, to ensure that the New York State thoroughbred breeding program remains among the strongest in the nation.

In addition to being the backbone of the Saratoga County economy, thoroughbred racing and equine farms have a significant statewide economic impact. For every 100 horses, 80 jobs are supported across all 62 counties of New York State. It is critical that the state continue to support and strengthen this important industry, noted Woerner.

“The Saratoga Race Course has been a fixture of our community for over 150 years. Its longstanding traditions and meaningful history have helped the Saratoga region flourish both economically and culturally,” said Woerner. “I will continue fighting for this proposal to be included in the final state budget.”