07/03/2013 10:59AM

Pennsylvania development fund sees relief

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A state code provision diverting 17 percent of monies from Pennsylvania’s Race Horse Development Fund has lapsed with the adoption of the state budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Over the past four years, the diversion took more than $200 million out of the development fund’s coffers and put it into the state’s general fund.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition partially turned back a budget proposal to divert about $31 million from the fund this year, reducing it to $17.6 million.

“We are relieved that the 17 percent diversion is over and that the proposal to divert $31 million was scaled back, but we remain concerned about the long-term impact that diverting funds will have on the racing industry,” said Pete Peterson, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Equine Coalition. “Like any industry, businesses involved in horse racing and breeding require the ability to make long-term calculations about the viability of the industry. When the amount of money available for purses and breeders incentives is in constant question, it discourages business owners from making capital investments and it impacts the amount of money owners are willing to invest in Pennsylvania horses.”

The original 17 percent diversion was enacted by the state in 2009. Peterson said that the instability it caused led some breeders to invest in other states, though that blow was lessened with the advent of expanded gaming at Pennsylvania racetracks.

“The racing and breeding industry has accomplished a great deal over the past decade, creating tens of thousands of jobs,” Peterson said. “We have much to be proud of, but we will never know how much more we could have accomplished had the funds from the Race Horse Development Fund not been diverted.  Looking to the future, we intend to highlight what we have accomplished despite the enormous uncertainty that has existed in recent years, and work to ensure the fund remains stable going forward.”