End Horse Racingâ€™s $2.7 Billion Taxpayer-Funded Windfall
Cutting Wasteful Subsidies Must be Part of Budget Balancing Discussion
July 7, 2017, Harrisburg, Pa.â€"State government spends $800 million on taxpayer-funding giveaways to politically connected businesses each year. As lawmakers and Gov. Wolf debate ways to pay for the $32 billion spending plan passed last week, ending these wasteful subsidies must be at the top of their solutions listâ€"and the horse racing industryâ€™s massive windfall should be first to go.
Since 2006, state government has transferred an astonishing $2.7 billion of public money to the Race Horse Development Fund, which primarily funds prizes at race tracks.
â€œEnding these outrageous subsidies for horse racing should be the first step toward balancing the budget,â€ commented Nathan Benefield, vice president and COO for the Commonwealth Foundation. â€œBefore considering any sort of tax increase, lawmakers should make sure existing revenue is spent on legitimate priorities.â€
Under current law, the state will send $250 million from assessments on slot machines to the Race Horse Development Fund this yearâ€"nearly one-third of the state’s $800 million in corporate welfare spending. A Tribune-Review analysis found the bulk of the fundâ€™s prize money went to out-of-state horse owners, including at least $1 million to the multi-billionaire vice president of the United Arab Emirates.
Despite billions in subsidies, a Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board report shows the horse racing industry in decline
â€œState government has no business propping up the horse racing industry on the backs of taxpayers,â€ continued Benefield. â€œLawmakers and Gov. Wolf must reduce unfair corporate welfare spending before asking Pennsylvanians for one dollar more.â€
Nathan Benefield and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Gina Diorio at 862-703-6670 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.
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