WASHINGTON, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing to cut $204 million from the Race Horse Development Fund and moving it to help college students with tuition.
The governor says the money would support the Nellie Bly tuition program, which provides financial assistance to targeted full-time students who agree to stay in Pennsylvania for the same number of years for which they receive the benefit.
The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition says this cut would destroy the industry that provides $1.6 billion economic impact, approximately 20,000 jobs and preserves over 100,000 acres of open space.
Where does the money come from?
Governor Wolf tells Channel 11′s Cara Sapida that the legislature would need to approve the transfer of the tax dollars going to purse winnings for owners, trainers and jockeys, and redirect them to this scholarship program.
Pete Peterson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition, told Channel 11 that money in the Race Horse Development Trust Fund comes from an assessment paid by casinos on their gross terminal revenues from slot machine gaming. The legislature noted in the 2017 Race Horse Industry Reform Act that the money isn’t funds of the Commonwealth and that the “Commonwealth shall not be rightfully entitled to any money” in the RHDTF.
Kim Hankins, the executive director of Meadows Standard Bred Owners Association, also talked about that trust with Channel 11.
"Three years ago the governor signed a bill to create that trust fund that couldn’t be touched, and now three years later he’s coming back and taking $200 million out of 250 dollars. All those jobs would be lost, all these horses would have to be re-homed, the economy would be devastated.”