Pa. horse-racing group wants stable source of funding

    Pennsylvania lawmakers are on their marks for a fight over the governor’s proposal to take a 30 percent funding slice out of a money pot intended for the horse racing industry.

    Industry representatives were up in arms almost immediately after Gov. Tom Corbett’s February proposal to make a $72 million cut to the fund used to boost horse-racing prizes.

    Now, they have the support of key Republican legislators.

    Corbett would shift the funding to agriculture programs, including extension offices, veterinary centers and county fairs.

    Rep. Chris Ross, R-Chester, said letting this year’s nearly $230 million horse-racing fund drop to about $160 million next year will make horsemen second-guess the state’s commitment to their industry.

    “I strongly urge my colleagues and the governor to rethink this position and make this fund whole and to take the uncertainty out of this business,” Ross said. “There’s plenty of uncertainty in horse racing as it is anyway, we don’t need to introduce more.

    Representatives of the horse-racing industry say if the funding is cut, they may take their animals — and the jobs that come with them — to greener, out-of-state pastures.

    The House Republican whip says he’s talked to the governor’s office and House majority leadership about walking back the proposed cut to the horsemen’s fund.

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