Senate Should Kill Subsidies

The so-called “haircut bill” that would have trimmed state subsidies for the horse and dog racing industries was reduced to a few snips of the sideburns this week by the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had recommended the Legislature cut subsidies by 15 percent, or about $13 million a year. His goal was to help close a predicted $146 million hole in the state budget for next year.

But this week, delegates approved a bill that moved cuts in horse- and dog-racing subsidies back to 10 percent.

Delegates, who forwarded the bill to the state Senate on a 72-25 vote, made two very good amendments to the measure. They started by adding a 10 percent reduction in state subsidies for equipment improvements at West Virginia’s four gambling casinos. That should save a few million dollars for taxpayers.

At the same time, delegates got rid of a Tomblin proposal the governor never should have considered in the first place.

Part of his revenue-transfer bill called for substantial reductions in local governments’ shares of gambling proceeds. Wheeling alone would have lost $250,000 a year. Towns and counties throughout the state would have been deprived of millions of dollars a year.

Delegates were absolutely right to kill that provision. State senators should go along with them.

But senators should not give the horse- and dog-racing industries any break. Is that to suggest they should insist the House go back to the governor’s proposal for 15 percent cuts?

No. The subsidies -about $90 million a year – should be eliminated entirely. West Virginia no longer can afford to give the two industries huge pots of money.