PA Horsemen Blast Plan to ‘Raid’ Slots Fund
By Tom LaMarra – BloodHorse
Tuesday, February 7, 2012 8:11 PM
The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition has blasted a budget proposal by Gov. Tom Corbett to take roughly $72 million in each of the next three years from the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund to pay for other agriculture-related programs.
Corbett’s 2012-13 budget proposes no tax hikes but instead shifts existing revenue. The PHRDF, which gets revenue from slot machines at racetrack and non-racing casinos, would take a substantial hit under the governor’s proposal.
According to line items in the general fund budget, the PHRDF would provide the following on an annual basis: $44.7 million to the Agricultural College Land Scrip Fund, $27.8 million to the University of Pennsylvania for veterinary activities, $971,000 to county fairs in Pennsylvania, and $248,000 to the University of Pennsylvania for control of infectious diseases.
In the roughly five years Pennsylvania has had casinos, horse racing has banked more than $1.1 billion, including purses, breed development, and horsemen’s pension plans. The state has received more than $3.1 billion, and casino owners have collected more than $4.2 billion, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
The Pennsylvania Equine Coalition, a statewide group representing more than 10,000 trainers, owners, and breeders, said Feb. 7 that Corbett’s budget “scheme to raid” the PHRDF will be a “devastating blow to the horse racing and breeding industry that candidate Corbett pledged to support on the campaign trail.” The coalition said the equine industry employs more than 23,000 Pennsylvanians, and the cuts will result in significant job losses across the state.
The group said Corbett, in his campaign, pledged to “work closely with the racing industry organizations to promote Commonwealth racing as an integral part of Pennsylvania agriculture, tourism, and cultural heritage.”
Members of the coalition in a release took issue with the governor’s plan.
“This budget is not supporting the horse racing industry in Pennsylvania–it’s gutting it,” said Todd Mostoller, executive director of the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents horsemen at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course and Presque Isle Downs & Casino. “In one fell swoop, the governor’s budget cut will decimate the progress made by the industry in attracting new businesses and preserving open space, creating jobs, and providing health care benefits for Pennsylvanians.
“Raiding the fund demonstrates a clear lack of support for a major economic driver within the agricultural economy of the state.”
“Coming on top of an already planned $47 million transfer from the Race Horse Development Fund to the state’s general fund, we are now looking at a roughly $120 million loss in the 2012-13 fiscal year,” said Ron Battoni, executive director of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, which represents horsemen at Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. “That means a significant decrease in purses, which are used to pay everyone from blacksmiths to veterinarians to stable hands.
“Trainers and owners who brought their horses and businesses to Pennsylvania with the expectation of competing for a certain level of purses are going to pull up stakes and make their investments elsewhere.”
“The timing couldn’t be worse as the New York breeding program is attracting horsemen from across the country due to the introduction of slots in October of 2011,” said Jeb Hannum, executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association. “Racing and breeding are significant economic drivers in the state that support over 20,000 jobs. This is a $1 billion industry that supports rural communities and the state’s agricultural economy.”
Members of the coalition include the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen’s Association, the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, and the Pennsylvania Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
The proposed budget wouldn’t take any operating revenue from the owners of racetrack casinos and non-racing casinos. The original 2004 law gives purses and breed development 12% of slot machine revenue at racetrack casinos, and 6% from non-racing resort casinos.
Racinos generates the revenue for the state but the Industry of why the Race Tracks exist has it’s share taken from them. Well I guess that’s only fair. Promised no tax raises so what does he do? ROBS JUST ONE PORTION OF THE TAX PAYERS.
Those whose jobs are connected to the Horse Racing Industry. So only THEY get tax raises.
I mean this is what it all amounts to. Typical Republican. Proposed budget wouldn’t take any operating revenue from the owners of racetrack casinos and non-racing casinos, yet they took in 4.2 Billion in those same 5 years.
So the state realizing what benefit that giving the Race Tracks slots could bring in decides to stage an Ocean’s 13 on people’s livelihoods who work there.
So the horsemen/women got only a temporary reprieve starting in 2004 and Gov. Corbett say’s it’s execution time again.
It never ends for this Industry. Blow after blow then something they finally allow to come in and rescue them but not without a grand benefit to the state. One person alone ups and says it’s over.
But he doesn’t hack away at the biggest part whose making the most money, he goes after those that this law was supposed to not only help to survive but thrive.
Gone in a flash. Another State, Horse Racing again its victim. And thousands of jobs get flushed and the Casino Owners strut on in fine fashion.
Yes Governor let the little guy and gals who work 7 days a week from sun up to sun down take the hit instead.
Well, PAHBPA At least you had it for a little while, your fellow Michigan Horsemen & Women haven’t got a break ever. Not even if for only for 7 years. I know that’s not much of a consolation, I don’t know what’s worst never having gotten a taste or finally getting one then having it stripped away. Believe me we know the feeling. For a second after ten long years we finally got a track back into the Metro/Detroit game, only for our state and Gov. to also jump in make sure and to kill it.
And our Casinos and Charity Casinos strut merrily on.
And here we sit.
All of them are cowards.
Make some noise PAHBPA, make some mighty noise.
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