Pimlico Bill Sails Through State Senate With Republican Support

We’ve talked extensively about the Pimlico redevelopment bill and how bad it is for Maryland taxpayers. We’ve talked about the issues with the state issuing bonds. We’ve talked about the extension of the Racetrack Facilities Renewal Account and the legal complications that will create. We’ve talked about how the bill raids the Education Trust Fund to redevelop the track and how Maryland State Education Association officials seem fine with that raid. And we’ve talked about how the bill includes tax breaks for those involved in Pimlico’s reconstruction.

None of that matter on the 3rd Reader in the House yesterday, where the so-called Racing and Community Development Act of 2020 sailed through the State Senate 44-1.

Ultimately, that’s the most disappointing thing about this entire bill. The bill passed with such an overwhelming majority because every Republican but one voted for it. The vote has not been made public, but Red Maryland has learned that the one Senator who voted against the measure was Republican Bryan Simonaire.

Nothing about this plan has changed since its announcement in October. If you’re still thinking “this is a bad deal for Maryland taxpayers,” you’re still right. There is still no compelling state interest in issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds simply for the sake of holding a horse race once a year in the city of Baltimore.

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But what’s most frustrating is that so many fiscal Republicans who usually are on the right side of these issues are very much on the wrong side of this one. It is illogical for the state to be involved in floating bonds for a horse racing project. This is a privately owned horse racing track, owned by a multi-billion dollar company. This is the kind of government handout that Republicans and fiscal conservatives are supposed to be against. And on top of it, they have given Governor Larry Hogan no reason to veto this bill knowing that Republicans in the Senate are not going to back him up.

This bill is bad for taxpayers. Nobody is perfect, but a lot of good Senators let us down made a bad vote on it.  Let’s hope that it doesn’t pass the House of Delegates and that taxpayers are not on the hook for debt service to pay for a silly horse race.


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