TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to cut $20 million in funding to the state’s horse racing industry has been met with furious blowback from two shore-area lawmakers who say he is jeopardizing the already hard-hit industry.
“The state’s horse racing industry stands alone in providing economic, environmental, and entertainment values like no other business in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Ocean). “With an estimated 42,000 horses on more than 7,200 farms that consist of 176,000 acres of tax-paying open space and green pastureland, the horse racing and breeding industry provides more than 13,000 jobs with a majority of the jobs being held by thousands of blue-collar New Jersey workers. With unemployment in the state at historic levels, it is necessary and essential to continue the investment in the economic powerhouse that we know the horse racing industry to be.”
The funding was signed into law in 2019 as a way to help Monmouth Park, the Meadowlands, and Freehold Raceway bolster purses and increase races. Last year was the first year for the program, which was meant to run for five years, and proved to be successful while meeting or exceeding economic growth benchmarks in the 2019 law.
As he signed it into law, Governor Murphy noted the importance of the horse racing industry as “a key economic engine, supporting thousands of jobs and attracting tourists and fans from around the world.”
“This is an industry that employs thousands of people directly and indirectly, and these cuts will have far-reaching negative effects in our communities,” said Assemblyman Rob Clifton (R-Monmouth). “If it were to happen, it would put more New Jerseyans out of work and on the long line waiting to get benefits that may never come from Murphy’s Labor Department. It is an insult that borders on cruelty.”