The Pennsylvania Legislature’s willingness to succumb to special interests has been well documented by the Commonwealth Foundation, but the amount of attention given to the horse racing industry is fascinating. In fact, no other state gives more money to the horse racing industry than Pennsylvania.
Lawmakers decided in October to trim 2% off the 12% gaming tax that was going toward horse racing. But even with that minor deduction, the horse racing industry will rake in more than $200 million in state subsidies.
The Pennsylvania public, however, was made to believe that gaming revenue would go to property tax relief. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 2006 was sold on the premise it would ease the financial burden of home ownership through funding provided by gaming revenue (though fund for horse racing and “economic development” were always part of the plan).
The promised property tax reductions, though, have not materialized. While the administration estimated $1 billion in annual property tax reductions, the actual amount in 2008-09 and for 2009-10 was around $600 million each year. By contrast, promises to the horse industry have been kept, with the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund receiving $210 million in the 2008-09 fiscal year.
Government should not be in the business of propping up failing businesses such as the horse racing industry. This is especially true when Pennsylvania taxpayers are denied promised payments during a recession in favor of special interests.