Horse racing is important part of state’s economy

To the editor:

The editorial on Feb. 11 began with, “If everyone agrees there is a problem, why hasn’t it been fixed yet?” The essence of the article in more money for college education by raiding the Horse Race Development Trust Fund. And, it ends with, “Pennsylvania’s status as an economic leader of the future very much depends upon it.”

There is little doubt that affordable education is important for the community and commonwealth. But, consider the ramification of this cut. Do you know that the harness horse industry is composed of many small business owners who make a $1.6 billion impact in the commonwealth? These small business owners employ 23,000 workers. Do you know that each standardbred horse creates at least four direct jobs — owners, trainers, drivers and grooms, which does not include racetrack/casino employees?

In addition to the economic benefits that are directly related to the sport, horse racing and breeding is also a significant contributor to the state’s larger agricultural economy. More specifically, horse owners and breeders serve as the major customers for grain, hay, and straw farmers. Many of these grain, hay and straw farmers rely on horse owners to remain in business — and maintain agriculturally productive open space. In addition, the equine industry is also responsible for protecting 18 percent of the total acres set aside in Pennsylvania’s agricultural preservation program.

This is certainly not the “gravy train” expressed in the editorial. The folks support families and educate their children while they struggle and work tirelessly for the love of the sport.

The Horse Race Development Trust Fund money does not come from taxpayers, it comes from casino revenue at an amount agreed upon by the track/casino operators and the horsemen. The state is just the holder of those funds. Find the education money elsewhere! Perhaps you could look at the line item budget that provides tuition money for students who go to a private school rather than a state university. There is plenty of money that could be repurposed from that budget line.

For the sake of full disclosure, I was raised in the harness racing world. I have a degree from a state university, with tuition paid by Harness Tracks of America. At least I admit to some bias but I have educated myself on this topic before expressing my opinion. You can learn more at: https://pennhorseracing.com/pennsylvania-economic-impact/.

Dr. Molly Sheaffer Kinney

Port Royal