Pennsylvania is betting its future—our future—on horse racing.
It is gambling away our tax dollars on a dying industry that produces few jobs, attracts no tourists and generates little interest.
Public interest in horse racing is almost non-existent. Most of the people watching racing are at off-track betting sites in other states. Only one out of every 8 dollar-bet comes from someone in Pennsylvania. Race tracks around the country are closing—but the state is throwing good money after bad due to one of the largest incentive programs in the country.
For 20 years, Pennsylvania taxpayers have spent more than $3 billion to prop up the state’s failing horse racing industry, as much as $240 million each year—all this, while Pennsylvania has among the highest college tuition rates of all 50 states and its graduates are saddled with thousands in debt. Almost 50% of our preschoolers don’t have access to a quality pre-K program. Our school buildings have lead in the water and asbestos in the ceilings, and are badly in need of repair. Our school property taxes are rising.
What’s more, horse racing is ugly. The incentive to cheat is strong and every winning horse is tested for performance enhancing drugs. This year more than 20 people, including several Pennsylvania breeders, were arrested in a doping scandal. The people who work at the track, hands, assistant trainers and stall muckers, work long hours for little pay. And, hundreds and hundreds of young horses are killed or maimed each year while training or racing. To learn more, go to https://horseracingwrongs.org/.
So, who is winning?
The Race Horse Development Fund pays cash prizes to wealthy horse owners, people who can afford to jet around the country and the world to indulge in this leisure activity. Our tax dollars are lavished on people who have so much discretionary income they can gamble it away.
Across Pennsylvania, this small group of horse breeders and owners are fighting attempts to reform this fund, spending thousands on lobbying the General Assembly. Why? Because the Race Horse Development Fund has provided tens of thousand of dollars in purses and incentive bonuses to breeders and owners—for a single winning race—and we foot the bill.
There are better uses for these funds. Pennsylvania has among the highest college tuition rates in the country, and its graduates are saddled with thousands in debt. Almost 50% of preschoolers don’t have access to a quality pre-K program. Our school buildings have lead in the water and asbestos in the ceilings, and are badly in need of repair. And, our school property taxes are rising.
How could Pennsylvania better spend $200 million?
- Create a scholarship program to reduce the debt burden on college students.
- Fund the PLANCON school construction program that hasn’t been funded since 2015.
- Increase special education funding to school districts to help fill the federal funding gap.
- End waiting list for services people with intellectual disabilities.
- Expand child care subsidy for Pennsylvania’s working families.
- Reduce health care premiums for families enrolled in Pennie, the state health insurance exchange.
- Increase the property tax and rent rebate program for senior citizens.
What’s more, COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on Pennsylvania’s budget. The Race Horse Development Fund is an ongoing funding source that can help stabilize the budget and support critical services.
What can you do to help?
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP RACING SUBSIDIES!
CLICK TO SIGN UP FOR CAMPAIGN UPDATES
We are a campaign of organizations working to end this wasteful spending program and support a state budget that maintains critical services.
Pennsylvania’s schools, child care programs, public colleges human service agencies and other critical services are chronically underfunded and facing extraordinary challenges and unexpected costs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers must make a choice—to support the needs of children, seniors, people with disabilities and other communities—or continue to prop up a declining horse racing industry that provides few jobs and little economic benefit and contributes to the maltreatment of thousands of horses.
To achieve this end, the Pennsylvania General Assembly should eliminate funding for the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund by June 30, 2021. For more information about Pennsylvania’s Racing Subsidy program, go to www.kidsoverhorseracing.org.
Funds that support racehorse drug testing, pensions and health care for track workers, as well as enforcement activities by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, should continue through an allocation of gaming tax revenues to the Racing Fund.
The remaining casino tax revenue should be reallocated to provide services that directly benefit a broad group of Pennsylvania residents, that will generate additional tax dollars and create high paying jobs for the future.