In response to the editorial in the Feb. 21 edition of the Observer Reporter, The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association (MSOA) takes serious exception to the biased slant of the editorial.
Pitting the horse-racing industry funding against the governor’s Nellie Bly Scholarship is not looking at the entire picture. The MSOA believes in helping young people with their education, as witnessed by the MSOA Scholarship Program that provides scholarships of upwards of $15,000 each year to worthy applicants.
But the Nellie Bly Scholarship Program should not be funded from the Race Horse Development Trust Fund (RHDTF), as proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf. He made a similar proposal in last year’s state budget that got no traction in the Legislature. Three years ago, the Racehorse Development Fund was changed to the Race Horse Development Trust Fund (RHDTF) by the Senate and House and signed by Wolf. The ACT 42 language specifically states that the RHDTF “are not funds of the commonwealth” and that the “commonwealth shall not be rightfully entitled to any money” from the RHDTF. So, Wolf’s proposal is illegal!
But of equal importance is that, if passed as proposed, the measure would, without question, eliminate all racing and breeding in Pennsylvania, including ancillary small businesses such as feed suppliers, veterinarians, farriers and hay farmers, as well as the hundreds of trainers, drivers, owners and grooms that work locally. The commonwealth itself agrees that horse-racing and breeding in Pennsylvania provides 23,000 direct and indirect jobs with an economic impact of $1.6 billion.
The local businesses would also feel a tremendous impact because of the investment in farms, supplies, fuel and meals, etc., that horsemen spend each day.
The MSOA supports higher education, but not at the expense of killing the vitally important agriculturally based horse-racing and breeding industry.
Kim Hankins is Executive Director of The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association.