Letter: Fleecing the public

To The Editor:

Letters1Last year, the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund (RHDF) was given $264 Million of state revenue. This year it is budgeted to receive $301 Million. Since the passage of the 2004 Gaming Act that established this fund, $1.7 Billion has been given to wealthy horse owners and breeders.

Most of this money is not used for racing infrastructure; 80% of it is simply used to increase the purses that wealthy horse owners win at the track. Past recipients include Arab Sheiks and countless out-of-state millionaires. Simply put: money paid into slot machines at Pennsylvania casinos and racetracks by the general public is redistributed to the very wealthy. One can easily imagine the back-room deal that went into creating this boondoggle. The RHDF is a glaring example of what is fundamentally wrong in Harrisburg, where career politicians and their wealthy cronies dupe the taxpayer and then cry poor when it comes to repairing our roads and bridges. Sadly, in Harrisburg such dishonorable behavior is made lawful.

The good news is that PA State Rep Todd Stephens (R-151) is introducing legislation that would send this much needed revenue to all school districts in the Commonwealth instead. His plan would immediately transfer approximately $250 Million annually into our public school system.The five school districts here in the 158th PA House District would see an increase of $10.3 million of additional Basic Education Funding (BEF) annually.

Avon Grove: $1.6M
Downingtown: $3.8M
Kennett Consolidated: $1.4M
Unionville-Chadds Ford: $1M
West Chester Area: $2.5M

If this legislation passes, our school districts will be able to fix some of their budget problems, and provide sorely needed tax relief to property owners.

My opponent in the upcoming Republican Primary for the 158th House district, Cuyler Walker, is a wealthy horse owner who has been involved in the horse racing and breeding industry his entire life. He was the chairman of the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission from 1997 to 2003 when, presumably, the RHDF boondoggle was formulated and lobbied in the General Assembly. His résumé proudly reports that he has been a well-connected Harrisburg operator since 1981. Career insiders who know how to manipulate the system are diverting revenue away from the core functions of government to serve their own interests, and those of their cronies, with complete disregard for the struggles that the vast majority of our citizens face everyday.

Time for common sense reforms.


Roger Howard

Candidate, 158th State House District

East Marlborough

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  1. Sarah Brown says:

    “real” Farmers and rural communities do not benefit from the casinos through preservation of farmland and jobs. People that are “controlling, power hungry” benefit, people that can afford to buy the land instead of using taxpayer dollars. It may benefit the Land Trust or the Conservancy groups that want to steal our private property rights or want to buy up the countryside with other people’s money.

    Horse racing has always been known as “the sport of kings” – let the kings pay instead of the taxpayers. And Walker is one of them – typical of those that love to spend other people’s money while they enjoy the lap of luxury. I know because I grew up around the horse racing industry – and I hated what I saw going on in that industry.

  2. Ray Farrell says:

    Not true.

    The State charges a 54% tax on slot machine receipts. The RHDF is funded with these tax receipts. The casino operator keeps 46%, of which none goes to the RHDF.

    Open Space? Many of these horse farm’s develoment rights were purchased by the taxpayer already so they will never be developed, regardless of who owns the land.

  3. Pete Peterson says:

    Taxpayers are not financing “a leisure activity.”When state’s legalized casinos at racetracks in the past, it resulted in declins in horse wagering, which ges to pay purses and provide breeders incentives. As a result, in order to have slots legalized, casinos agreed to put a portion of their slots revenue (about 11 percent) into a racing fund that would supplement those purses and breeders and offset declines. This money is coming out of the casino’s pocket, not the state or taxpayers. What do we get out of it? Preservation of open space as horse farms, 22,000 jobs in the horse racing and breeding industry her in Pennsylvania and billions of dollars in economic impact. And as a result, farming and rural communities get to see some beenfit from the casinos through preservation of farmland and jobs. Ray Farrell and Roger Howard are what is wrong with politics — making accusations and claims that are completely inaccurate.

  4. Ray Farrell says:

    It is unethical for the average hardworking citizen to finance a leisure activity of the idle rich when there are sooo many, many more important things to do with this revenue.

  5. Ray Farrell says:

    This type of crony capitalism is exactly what is wrong with Politics. It is just shameful what career insiders like Cuyler Walker will do in Harrisburg to disenfranchise hard working Americans. The RHDF is a perfect example of this and only the tip of the iceberg.


    It’s interesting how someone who hides behind the fake name of “Joe 6 Pack” is ok with welfare for the rich instead of funding education, roads, bridges, police & fire, and other essential core functions of govt.

  6. Joe 6 Pack says:

    These types of negative attacks are exactly what is wrong with politics. It is just shameful. I met Roger a few times since he’s been campaigning for office. (This isn’t is first attempt.) He has quite the ego.

    Nearly all of his local supporters from when he ran for State Senate are now supporting his opponent, Cuyler Walker. Even his campaign manager, Jamie Cox.

    Let’s keep power hungry and egotistical people out of office. Say no to Roger.

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