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Corporate welfare also deserves to be cut

July 14, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Last week I praised Gov. Tom Corbett's initially proposed 50-percent cut to Penn State and its potential to apply pressure to the school for greater financial transparency and affordability. Another batch of cuts contained in the budget Corbett signed to be commended include cuts to the Department of Community and Economic Development - particularly the elimination of "walking-around" money, public expenditures made by legislators with less oversight than traditional spending.

The cuts also include a merger of business attraction and retention programs that cut such spending from $41 million to $25 million, and a cut to spending on industrial development by $4 million. Overall, Marc Scolforo of the Associated Press reports, the cuts bring DCED's budget down to $231 million, from $631 million four years ago.

But while Corbett is to be commended for this tentative step in the right direction, there are still bigger targets for critics of waste to set their sights upon. The use of more than a tenth of gambling revenues to support one specific, small economic sector is one.

The Sights on Pennsylvania blog, pouring over revenue figures from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board itself, found the horse breeding industry has received at least $829 million in revenues from gross casino revenues since passage the state's 2006 slot-machine law. Money that could be used for many better purposes, including expansion of property tax relief, replacement of general budget appropriations to primary and secondary education to prevent the sort of cuts initially proposed by Corbett or even increase funding levels, and/or personal income tax relief.

At a time when libraries, hospitals and schools are sacrificing, the Corbett administration is right to cut corporate welfare in the DCED budget. Hopefully next year the governor turns his attentions to the millions in corporate welfare for the horse breeding industry - the average Pennsylvania family, hard-working and overburdened, deserves it.


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