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Monday, May 09, 2005

While We Were Out...

- …the Florida legislature adjourned with no agreement on slots in Broward County, ignoring the voters who approved them, and dealing a blow to the pari-mutuels, some of whom already have lavish constructions plans ready to go. While the Senate agreed to the House top tax rate of 55%, the House refused to budge from approving only the Class II “Bingo” machines. The president of Hollywood Greyhound called it "an insult to the voters." "We'll be conferring with our attorneys," he said. "We won't rush. We'll wait a few days." One lawmaker left no doubt as to who is to blame: "At the end of the day, the governor was the heavyweight in the slots debate," [Sen. Steve] Geller said. "And the House has a history of following the governor's lead on issues, and the governor was very outspoken against slots." [Sun-Sentinal]

Sentinal columnist Michael Mayo notes: Thanks to the House's recalcitrance, the state will now have to potentially spend millions of dollars in legal fees fighting aggrieved pari-mutuel owners.

Though he got his way on slots (for now, anyway), it was not a good year for Governor Bush:

But as the two-month legislative session spun to a close this week, Mr. Bush suffered some of the sharpest losses of his tenure - at the hands of his own Republican party.

On Thursday, the State Senate rejected the governor's proposal to ask voters to scale back the class-size limits they approved in 2002, which he has said would cost taxpayers billions of dollars. It also killed his plan to expand the voucher program, which would have allowed struggling readers to transfer to private and religious schools. [NY Times]

And discussing the governor always gives us the chance to segue over to his brother, and we find that he threw a little hissy fit over in Latvia today when he didn’t get the attention he expected. He's a man who wants everything his own way, and Steve Clemons at The Washington Note and Douglas Jehl of the Times (no registration necessary) have the latest on the way his administration is withholding information in an attempt to stonewall the John Bolton inquiry.

- Philadelphia is on a racing roll, following up last year’s Smarty party with local connections owning the 2-3 finishers in Saturday's Derby. Smarty’s popularity is credited with spurring the passage of slots legislation there. But Rick Porter, owner of Rockport Harbor (remember him?) knows that what is good news for Pennsylvania is not necessarily so for neighboring Delaware:
"Philadelphia Park is going to be a different ball game…..Number one, they're going to build new barns. Their purses are probably going to be bigger than New York's. The horsemen there get a much better deal than in Delaware. It's much easier to ship horses to Monmouth or New York from Philly than Delaware. And a lot of the slots players from Philly who have been going down there will stop.

"So I think you're going to see Delaware Park's purses probably go down. Guys aren't going to be sending their first string there." [Philly Inquirer]
Of course, as gambling spreads, Pennsylvania, if its legislature actually ever gets around to implementing slots, will one day soon be effected the same way.