In Pennsylvania, battle lines shaping up over using racehorse money for scholarships

Tony Romeo
February 12, 2020 - 6:27 pm
Gov. Tom Wolf visited Lock Haven University to launch a tour of the 14 state-owned universities and discuss his proposal to help thousands of low- and middle-class students afford their dream of a college education.

The Office of Governor Tom Wolf via Flickr

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Gov. Tom Wolf has a scheduled appearance at West Chester University Thursday to promote his proposed scholarship program for students at state-owned universities. The governor kicked off his promotional tour Wednesday at Lock Haven University. 

Wolf wants to divert more than $200 million from a fund — generated by slot machine proceeds — boosting the state’s racehorse industry. At Lock Haven University, the governor urged supporters of his plan to advocate for it.

"We need to make sure that we’re arguing on our side that this is really important, not just for a handful of people, but for everybody in Pennsylvania," he said. 

"This is not just a handful of people. This is 20,000 people who work. This is people who drive tractors that take care of the tracks. This is people who work in the back stretch," said State Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, a Bucks County Republican who advocated for the state casino law to support Parx and other Pennsylvania race tracks. 

Related: Gov. Wolf proposes millions for public schools, college students

Tomlinson contends the proposed source of funding Wolf’s scholarship plan would kill the Pennsylvania horse racing industry.

Wolf’s proposal would give grants to students at state-owned universities, grants that would cover costs not met by Pell Grants and other state assistance. 

The grant would become a loan if the student does not remain in Pennsylvania after graduation for the same number of years they received the benefit.