HARRISBURG, Pa.--On Wednesday, representatives of the Pennsylvania harness and thoroughbred industries appeared before the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee at a hearing at the State Capitol in Harris- burg to examine the impact of the proposed $72 million cut to the Race Horse Development Fund (RHDF). They made the collective case that the cuts would not only be unfair but devastate what is currently a thriving industry.
Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett pro- posed the cut as part of his budget proposal and wants to direct those funds in part to make up for reductions in fund- ing to veterinary studies at Penn State University and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsyl- vania and to support County Fairs throughout the state.
When Pennsylvania legalized casinos at racetracks nearly eight years ago through the passage of ACT 71, the law created the RHDF using 11 percent of slots revenue. Purses in Pennsylvania rose exponentially and a recent study found that the horse racing industry now has an annual half a billion dollar impact on Pennsylvania's economy.
Wednesday's hearing served to educate members of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and better arm them with the facts that are the basis for the argument made by the horsemen that the cuts to the RHDF would be cata- strophic. In part because Corbett is a Republican, several Democratic lawmakers appear eager to side with racing.
Todd Mostoller, the Executive Director of the PA HBPA, testified at the hearing to the destructive results the Gover- nor's plan would produce.
"The horse racing industry is the epitome of capitalism," said Mostoller. "If horsemen are profitable, those profits are reinvested into our industry. Horsemen are no different than any other businessman."
Mostoller went on to explain that unlike a sports franchise, which has many sources of revenue, from ticket sales to merchandise to concessions, horsemen do not. Owners have one source of revenue: purse money. And when the opportunity to profit is reduced, reinvestment is reduced. When reinvestment is reduced, the economy is reduced State Senator Larry Farnese of Pa's 1st district, which includes Philadelphia, said to Mostoller, "It appears horse- men are only asking for the intent of ACT 71 to be honored and nothing more."